NEWMARKET, Ont. — A Toronto-area woman committed an “unfathomable” betrayal by arranging to have her parents killed in their own home over their strict parenting style, an Ontario judge said Friday in sentencing her to life in prison.
Jennifer Pan, 28, was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder last month in the Nov. 8, 2010 attack that killed her mother, Bieh Ha Pan, and left her father, Hann Pan, with a serious head wound.
Her three co-accused — Lenford Crawford, David Mylvaganam and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Daniel Wong — were also found guilty of the same charges.
All four were sentenced Friday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years on the murder conviction, and life for attempted murder. The sentences are to be served concurrently.
In his decision, Judge Cary Boswell said he gave the maximum sentence for attempted murder because it was simply luck that Hann Pan survived such a “crime of terrifying violence.”
“Each of the offenders knew that he or she was involved in a murder plot,” and was aware of the “abject immorality” of the plan, he said.
None of Pan’s family members were in the Newmarket, Ont., court Friday, but her father and brother said in written statements that their lives have been shattered by the attack.
“When I lost my wife, I lost my daughter at the same time,” Hann Pan said in his statement. “On the day Bieh died, I feel I died too.”
Haunted by nightmares and hampered by lingering pain, Hann Pan said he can’t work or return to the family home more than four years after the attempt on his life. Selling the house has proved impossible given the taint of murder, he said.
“I hope my daughter Jennifer thinks about what happened to her family and can become a good, honest person someday,” he said.
Pan’s brother Felix said the stigma of his sister’s actions will follow him his whole life. Even now, he said, it’s difficult to think of, much less talk about, his loss.
Her lawyer, Paul Cooper, said Pan is “devastated” and plans to appeal her conviction.
The Crown said Pan started plotting her parents’ murder after they forced her to choose between them and Wong, her high-school sweetheart turned drug dealer.
The ultimatum came after the Pans discovered much of what their daughter had told them over the past decade was a lie. She had never gone to university, much less graduated, and was living with Wong rather than with a friend, as she’d told them, court heard.
Pan moved back home and appeared to submit to her parents’ wishes, all while planning the attack through text messages and calls on her “secret murder phone,” prosecutors said. That phone’s SIM card was never recovered, but the data stored on the device was presented as evidence during trial.
The killing cost her $10,000, to be paid out from her inheritance, the Crown said.
It’s unclear who shot Pan’s mother and father, though all three intruders were allegedly armed with guns. Mylvaganam’s lawyer told the court his client wasn’t inside the house, nor did he shoot anyone.
Prosecutors said during trial that neither Wong nor Crawford were at the Pan home that night, but acted as middle-men for her and the men who carried out the killing.
The attack initially appeared as a home invasion. Pan told police three men broke in, tied her up and ransacked the house before shooting her parents.
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York Regional Police Det. William Courtice, said investigators began to suspect her after noticing discrepancies in her accounts of what happened. Their suspicions were cemented after it became clear her father would survive, he said.
“Mr. Pan was interviewed almost a week after the murder and his version of what transpired inside the Pan residence varied dramatically from the versions told by his daughter,” he said.
Then, he said, “statements were obtained from friends of Ms. Pan, some of which revealed she had previously hired persons to kill her parents.”
Pan admitted on the stand she had previously tried to have her father murdered, but said she abandoned that plan after the man she hired took off with her money.
Then, distraught at finding her life in shambles, Pan arranged for someone to kill her, she testified. But she said she called off that plan when her situation began to improve.
She told the court the attack was a violent home invasion committed by men she couldn’t recognize.
A trial for a fifth co-accused, Eric Carty, has not been held yet.