Judge orders arrest warrant for B.C. doctor with history of spousal abuse who fled country
Warning: This story references physical and domestic abuse.
A B.C. judge has ordered a Canada-wide warrant for the arrest of a doctor with a history of domestic violence who fled the country in the face of a growing bill for unpaid spousal and child support.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Sujay Ishwarlall, formerly of Duncan, has faced criminal charges in two countries for assaulting his ex-wife and was "physically, emotionally, and financially violent" toward her throughout their 15-year marriage, according to a recent B.C. Supreme Court judgment.
Ishwarlall cleared out his bank accounts and took off for his home country of South Africa sometime last year, after the most recent set of charges was resolved through a peace bond and he was ordered to pay thousands of dollars a month to support his family, Justice Catherine Murray's March 2 decision shows.
His refusal to pay child or spousal support has left his family "financially destitute," she wrote, granting a divorce to his former wife.
Murray's judgment includes a long list of orders against Ishwarlall, including an order for an arrest warrant for contempt of court stemming from his repeated violation of court orders commanding him to disclose financial information. Murray wrote that he has "flagrantly disregarded" the court's authority.
She also granted a protection order restraining him from any contact with his child and former wife.
"Given Dr. Ishwarlall's history of violence, his apparent inability to control his anger and violent tendencies, along with his potential for serious violence, I find that … family violence is likely to occur," Murray wrote.
In all, Ishwarlall has been ordered to pay more than $640,000 in penalties, expenses and unpaid child and spousal support, plus special costs. Murray added that "as Dr. Ishwarlall has demonstrated the lengths to which he will go to avoid paying child or spousal support, I am satisfied that [his ex-wife] must be awarded full ownership of all assets."
Ishwarlall was ordered in May 2022 to begin paying child and spousal support but has paid nothing to his ex-wife and only three months of child support so far, Murray wrote.
Neither Ishwarlall nor his lawyer, Nathan Ganapathi, attended the trial, according to the judgment. CBC has reached out to Ganapathi for comment but has yet to receive a response.
Abuse 'on an almost daily basis'
According to the judgment, Ishwarlall's ex-wife kicked him out of the family home in June 2020 after their child threatened to run away if she didn't end the marriage.
Ishwarlall had become "extremely violent" toward his family during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic when they were often stuck at home together, Murray wrote.
"On an almost daily basis, he was physically and emotionally abusive," the judgment says.
After she kicked him out, Ishwarlall continued to call his then-wife to threaten and insult her, according to the judgment.
He was charged with three counts of assault and two of uttering threats after an incident in November 2020 that saw him invading the family home, grabbing his estranged wife by the hair, threatening to "smash her in the face because she was disrespecting him" and spitting in her face, the decision says. Their child was hiding behind a door throughout.
After the assault was over, the child came out crying from their hiding place, apologizing to their mother for "not being brave enough to protect her."
On the date of Isherwarlall's trial in August 2022, much to the surprise of his former wife, the matter was resolved through a 12-month peace bond, Murray wrote.
Ishwarlall had moved his family to Vancouver Island from Saskatchewan in 2015 after word of another spousal assault case began spreading through his community in Moose Jaw.
He'd pleaded guilty to an attack in a New Zealand hotel room during a family holiday in 2013.
According to Murray's account of the assault, Ishwarlall had become angry with his then-wife, headbutted her in the face and then dragged her around the room. When she tried to escape, he shut the door on her toe.
He received a discharge after his guilty plea, which meant there would be no conviction on his criminal record.
Ishwarlall attended some anger management counselling sessions after the New Zealand attack, but it "did not seem to have any impact" on his violent tendencies, Murray wrote.
"One thing did change after the New Zealand incident, however; Dr. Ishwarlall was careful to not leave telltale signs of his abusive conduct," she said.
He was reprimanded by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan after his guilty plea for the New Zealand assault.
Ishwarlall remains a fully licensed doctor in B.C. A spokesperson for the College of Physicians and Surgeons said she was unable to comment on his status here.