Guilty plea for Toronto man who murdered ex-girlfriend then jumped in front of train
Lascelles Allen pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Suraiya Gangaram, a mother of three young girls.
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A Toronto man who fatally stabbed his ex-girlfriend, leaving her bloodied body on the kitchen floor for her children to find, was sentenced to life imprisonment Tuesday with no parole eligibility for 18 years.
Lascelles Allen, 54, was supposed to stand trial for first-degree murder this month but instead pleaded guilty in December to the second-degree murder of Suraiya Gangaram, 31, a mother of three young girls.
The pair’s romantic involvement ended in August 2014 when Allen was charged by police with assaulting her. He was released on a recognizance to a surety and ordered not to have any contact with Gangaram, according to an agreed statement of facts.
Despite the court order, they continued to have contact although Gangaram had begun a new relationship with another man.
On the evening of May 7, 2015, Allen and Gangaram and her three daughters went to see a musical. They returned to her home on Danzig St. in Scarborough and Gangaram went out with her new boyfriend, leaving Allen to mind the girls.
The next day, while they were at school, Allen stabbed Gangaram multiple times in the chest. He also committed an indignity to her body that Superior Court Justice John McMahon called degrading and “heinous.”
Later that afternoon, Allen threw himself in front of a VIA rail train at a nearby GO station, severing his lower legs.
Police found evidence that Allen was planning a violent act.
Earlier in the day, he bought duct tape, three cable ties, bungee cords, rope, disposable lighters and lighter fluid.
Crown attorney Maureen Pecknold referred to it as a “murder kit.” Defence counsel Paula Rochman “it might also have been a suicide kit.” The two lawyers, however, agreed on an 18-year parole eligibility period. The range for second-degree murder is 10 to a maximum of 25 years before an offender can apply.
McMahon said an aggravating factor of the crime was the fact Allen continued to see Gangaram.
“While I recognize that the victim was also a party to the breach, nevertheless the accused elected to blatantly disregard the court order that was put in place to protect the victim,” McMahon said.
Allen declined to address the court.
He sat in his wheelchair with his head bowed listening as Pecknold read a half dozen heart-wrenching victim impact statements from family members.
The identities of Gangaram’s three daughters are covered under a publication ban. They were 6, 8 and 14 when she was killed.
Only the eldest, who discovered her mother’s body, read her statement.
Now 16, she described to a hushed court how the murder turned the family’s world “upside down,” the tragedy made worse by the fact the killer was a father figure.
“Losing my mom, my best friend, the only parent I had, losing my home, losing my self, I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t go to school,” she said reading from her victim impact statement.
“I felt drained, weak and helpless. I felt like it was my fault. I felt like the whole world was crashing down on me, and at some points I couldn’t breathe.”
She also described the nightmarish experiences of being shuffled around in foster care. The first home was a “living hell,” where the girls suffered nightmares and anxiety and told no one else would want them. They are now with a loving and supportive family, the teen told court.
While every murder victim leaves behind devastated family members, McMahon said “the impact on this family exceed what I have experienced in most of the tragic cases I have dealt with in my career as a judge.”
He said it was “completely incomprehensible” that the girls ended up in the first foster home, but said he’s relieved they’re now being cared for in a nurturing and loving environment.
The only silver lining in the case is the “courage and resiliency of these three young people,” McMahon said.