December 11, 2023

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Man on trial for murder of estranged wife with machete – Toronto

Sasikaran Thanapalasingam wept in the prisoner’s box as assistant Crown attorney Caolan Moore read out an agreed statement of facts in the Superior Court of Ontario, summarizing the horrific events leading up to the daylight machete attack that ended the life of Thanapalasingam’s estranged wife, 27-year-old Tharshika Jeganathan, on Sept. 11, 2019.

“It is conceded that Mr. Thanapalasingam attacked and caused the death of Ms. Jaganathan,” Moore told Justice Anne Molloy before showing a video compilation including the disturbing stabbing that was captured on surveillance video.

Jaganathan is seen getting on and off the Ellesmere Avenue TTC bus after working all day at a nearby Dollarama and was walking home to the basement apartment she was renting on Fishery Avenue near Moorish Road.

She can be seen running from Thanapalasingam as he chases her, swinging the knife, until she falls to the ground. The machete attack continued as Jaganathan lay helpless on the ground in a driveway just a few doors down from the home where she rented a room.

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Thanapalasingam has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. What is at issue is whether Thanapalasingam formed the intent to murder his ex that day.

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Toronto man charged with 1st-degree murder after estranged wife dies in machete attack

Karunsa Parameswaran, who described Jaganathan as a sister in whom she confided and vice versa, testified about her last conversation with her friend, whom she called “Tharsi.”

Parameswaran said she had a phone conversation with Jaganathan around 6:10 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2019, after Jaganathan’s shift ended at Dollarama.

“We were just talking about our day. I asked her if she heard back from her divorce lawyer. She said no. She told me she just got off the bus and was walking towards her place,” Parameswaran recalled before breaking down in tears on the stand.

“Eventually I heard her scream. I was calling, ‘Tharsi, what happened? Why are you screaming?’ and then I heard the phone drop and then I heard another scream, and I’m still calling out for her but I didn’t get a response.”

Parameswaran said she was in shock because it sounded like her friend was in pain. She told her dad what had happened and the two drove to Fishery Road, where they saw police cars and crime tape. When she couldn’t find Jaganathan, she spoke to an officer about the phone call.

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The first officer on scene, Const. Peter Eckersall, who worked in 43 Division, recalled how a number of calls came in for a person with a knife.

“Calls about a male with a machete. They mentioned someone was lying on the ground and was struck on the head with a machete outside 68 Fishery Rd.,” Eckersall recalled.

He said when he arrived on scene, he found a female lying face-down on the driveway. She had serious wounds to both arms and her head.

“At this point, she was obviously deceased. No life-saving measures would save her,” he continued.

Eckersall said he put an orange blanket on the lifeless body of the woman for her dignity, and noticed a red cellphone and a dollar store bag nearby.

“There was a machete on the road,” he said.

Court heard that Thanapalasingam and Jeganathan were married in India on Nov. 1, 2015. She moved to Canada in February 2017 to join her husband and lived with him and his parents near Markham and Ellesmere roads but things quickly deteriorated.

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Just three weeks after starting her new life, Jeganathan moved out and had Thanapalasingam charged with assault. While acquitted of the assault charge, between April and September of that year, Thanapalasingam was charged three times with breaching conditions to stay away from his estranged wife. He pleaded guilty to one of those charges. Two other charges were withdrawn.

On Aug. 3, 2018, Jeganathan called police, reporting that her ex had been at the Tim Hortons near the Dollarama where she worked the day before. He was cautioned by police but not charged.

On Oct. 3, 2018, Thanapalasingam provided police with a letter indicating he was getting threatening calls from Jeganathan’s friends; Jeganathan’s friends were cautioned.

He also indicated that he complained to immigration officials that his marriage with Jeganathan was a “ruse.”

By the end of 2018, Thanapalasingam had initiated divorce proceedings. He alleged Jeganathan owed him $30,000 for her dowry, including marriage expenses and her wedding necklace. He also alleged she only wanted to marry him to move to Canada. He wrote that she had assaulted him and filed false domestic violence claims.

After a pause in the proceedings, in the summer of 2019, Jeganathan responded and disputed his financial claims and detailed his abusive behaviour.

Court ended early on Wednesday when suddenly sobs could be heard coming from the prisoner’s box. Thanapalasingam, who is listening to the trial through a Tamil interpreter, was crying uncontrollably. The trial resumes on Thursday.

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