Justice McDonald sentences Afshin Maleki Ighani to 21 months on assault charges but he will be released for time served. (File photo)

Prolific South Okanagan criminal will be freed for time served

Afshin Ighani pleads guilty to assault charges but will be set free for time served

After nearly three years behind bars, an infamous South Okanagan criminal will soon be a free man.

During Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing in Penticton, Justice Elizabeth McDonald agreed with a joint Crown and defence submission, sentencing the Afshin Ighani to a total of 21 months for five assault charges relating to two separate incidents at Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC) for which he had earlier plead guilty.

The 48-year-old, who has been in jail since April 22, 2017, will now be released, based on time served.

For the two incidents at OCC, Justice McDonald broke down the charges into 12 months for assault with a weapon (sharp shank) and assault causing bodily harm. According to court documents, in 2017, Ighani stabbed fellow inmates Peter Beckett, who is serving time for the 2010 first-degree murder of his wife and convicted child molester David McHale.

One of Ighani’s victims was reportedly stabbed in the shoulder.

The other charge related to the 2018 assault of a female OCC officer who received “severe bruising” while attempting to return him to his cell.

“I note that Mr. Ighani has pleaded guilty, saving the community expense of a trial,” said McDonald, while acknowledging Ighani’s criminal past. “In short I’m satisfied that the joint submissions and sentence imposed, satisfy the objectives and the purpose of sentencing and will not bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”

Ighani appeared via video from OCC and asked the justice for clarification of what his lawyer John Swanson had said about the sentencing to which the judge explained it further to him.

Swanson also asked McDonald for clarification for court records.

“Assuming that there are no other holds on him, presumably he will be released forthwith?” he asked, to which McDonald agreed.

Ighani was arrested in 2017, following a Canada-wide man-hunt. He was charged with 10 kidnapping and weapons offences in relation to an incident that took place in Okanagan Falls and Princeton where he was eventually caught.

During the crime spree, it’s alleged Ighani shot Thomas Szajko, leading to a major police presence on a quiet residential street in the town of Oliver, where Ighani was believed to have been staying in a camper trailer.

While police were looking for him, he allegedly kidnapped Jodie Walker and Christopher William Gliege, who were later identified as key witnesses and who had agreed to drive him from Okanagan Falls to the Lower Mainland for $400. On the way, he took control of the vehicle and forced them to turn off on a logging road between Princeton and Manning Park.

The vehicle stopped about six kilometres along the road, where Gliege was forced to get out and start digging.

Police at the time said all three were people who were known to each other.

He was acquitted of all of those charges earlier this month in Penticton Supreme court after defence lawyer Paul McMurray convinced the presiding judge there was sufficient doubt relating to the testimony of the two key crown witnesses, one of who fled to the United States after testifying.

Attempted murder and weapons charges against Ighani relating the shooting of Thomas Szajko were stayed after Szajko, the key witness, died months later of an unrelated cause.

READ MORE: Okanagan inmate charged in Princeton kidnapping gets trial extension

Ighani, who has a lengthy criminal record, was reportedly twice ordered deported to his Iranian homeland, in 2002 and 2007. Both orders were eventually revoked.

READ MORE: Representing himself, Ighani delays trial

In addition to life-long weapons prohibitions, Ighani was also ordered to agree to the taking of bodily substances samples for the purpose of forensic DNA analysis.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

BC Supreme Court

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