Former B.C. teacher guilty in wife's slaying


Former teacher Mukhtiar Panghali has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his pregnant wife in Surrey, B.C., four years ago.

Panghali, 30, was also found guilty of interfering with a dead body by Justice Heather Holmes, who delivered the verdict in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Friday morning.

As the verdict was read out, friends and family gathered in the courtroom cried and sobbed. One woman even shouted, "Yes!" when the guilty verdict was announced.

Manjit Panghali, 30, was four-months pregnant with her second child when she was reported missing in October 2006. Five days later, her burned body was found on a beach near the Delta port.

Panghali reported his wife missing 26 hours after she disappeared, a piece of evidence Holmes said contributed to him being found guilty.

Holmes told the court no direct evidence linked Panghali with his wife's killing but said there was some powerful evidence indicating he was responsible for her death, including his behaviour after the crime and photo stills from a video showing Panghali buying a lighter and a newspaper the night his wife disappeared.
Family responds

The verdict brings some sense of justice for the victim's family, but cannot make up for what happened, her older sister Jasmine Bhambra said.

"Although it's been difficult for us, it doesn't compare to the pain and horror Manjit must have felt in her final moments, having her life being taken away from her by the one person who was supposed to love and protect her," Bhambra said. "She died a brutal and senseless death at the hands of a sick and twisted and evil monster."

Delta Police Sgt. Sharlene Brooks said investigators are satisfied with the outcome, but share the family's ongoing grief.

"Today [we] have a sense of relief for the family, in particular, Manjit's daughter, and all who knew Manjit. However, the Delta police are mindful that today also reignites a sense of tragedy."

Panghali will be sentenced March 17.