Man and teenage boy sentenced to life for murder - Milton Keynes

15/09/2017

A man and a teenage boy have today, Friday, 15 September 2017, been sentenced at Luton Crown Court for murdering Suren Sivananthan in Milton Keynes in January.

Gnanachandran Balachandran, aged 38, of The Fleet, Springfield, Milton Keynes, and a 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were sentenced today after being found guilty on 24 August 2017, of the murder, by a jury, following a seven week trial. Balachandran was jailed for life and is to serve a minimum of 18 years imprisonment. The youth was jailed for life and is to serve a minimum of 11 years imprisonment.

Prashanth Thevarasa, aged 24, of Farrier Place, Downs Barn, Milton Keynes, who was found guilty of one count of Section 18 grievous bodily harm with intent, following the same trial, was today jailed for 10 years.

In January 2017, the victim, Suren Sivananthan, aged 32, a Sri Lankan national living in Canada, visited the United Kingdom to see a female friend whom he knew from school in Sri Lanka.

During the afternoon of 20 January 2017, Suren and his friend went shopping in Milton Keynes. As they noticed the car of Gnanachandran Balachandran, the friend's estranged husband, they parted ways. The woman gave Suren a spare mobile phone, to keep in touch with him, and her car key to look after.

Liz Scriven, Senior Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved the murder of 32-year-old Suren Sivananthan in Milton Keynes in January, during his short visit to the UK from Canada.

"On Friday, 20 January 2017, Suren was subjected to sustained and violent assaults in at least three locations in Milton Keynes and suffered multiple blunt force injuries to his head and face along with other injuries to the rest of his body. The motive for the execution is believed to be his relationship with Gnanachandran Balachandran's estranged wife. Balachandran was obsessed with his ex-wife and would not accept the marriage was over, despite being separated from her for nine years. When he found out about the relationship he instigated the vicious assaults by gathering together his friends, including Prashanth Thevarasa, who befriended Suren and encouraged him to drink with them. Once drunk, Suren was less able to resist the violence and defend himself against his attackers. After being taken by taxi to a service yard in Netherfield and being severely beaten, Suren was taken by the men in a taxi to a property in Rochfords where he was again beaten by them and a 17-year-old boy, who was present in the address. The men and the boy then took Suren by taxi to Great Linford where he was beaten again. Covered in blood, Suren had his clothes changed by the group, and was then left on the floor outside the Co-op where he was eventually found dead at 4am on 21 January; the day he was due to return home to Canada.

"When arrested in a hotel, Balachandran was found with Suren's blood stained clothing and jewellery, a mobile phone Suren had borrowed from Balachandran's estranged wife and her car key, which she had also given him. He eventually admitted drinking with Suren, but said he had only gone to Great Linford to take Suren some clothes as he had been told he had sustained injuries in a fall. The 17-year-old boy answered 'no comment' during his police interviews. Thevarasa denied any involvement in the assaults and blamed the others for inflicting the injuries which killed Suren. Balachandran and the 17-year-old boy were found guilty of murder and Thevarasa was found guilty of wounding with intent, despite their denials.

"We have worked closely with Thames Valley Police since this investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved. We know that nothing will bring Suren back to his family and friends, but we hope that the convictions and today's sentences bring them at least a small sense that justice has been done. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Mark Glover, from Thames Valley Police's Major Crime unit, said: "Suren was a healthy young man who travelled to the United Kingdom to meet a woman who he knew from his school days. They had recently got back in contact with each other and started a new and happy relationship.

"The events which followed were motivated by the jealousy of Balachandran, the estranged husband of the woman with whom Suren had started a relationship. The prolonged assault was appallingly brutal. The defendants convicted inflicted 87 injuries on his body - 36 on his head and neck - and left him cold and alone to die in Great Linford, Milton Keynes.

"Thames Valley Police officers, along with the Crown Prosecution Service, have worked together to ensure this serious crime has been resolved and I am grateful to everyone from the investigation and prosecution team for their efforts over the past eight months.

"I recognise that no sentence will ever bring Suren back for his family and friends. What I can only hope is that they will be able to take a small amount of comfort from knowing those responsible for Suren's untimely death will be serving a significant amount of time in prison where they can reflect upon their actions."