Mentally Ill Wife Killer Entitled to his Spouse’s Life Insurance Proceeds

In a stunning ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal, a man who murdered his wife in 2006 was found to be entitled to her life insurance benefits, as originally reported by The Toronto Star.

 Two years after her death, Ved Dhingra was found not criminally responsible for the second-degree murder of his wife, Khamlesh Dhingra, after being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and possessing a history of hospitalization and suicide attempts.

As a result, a life insurance company decided to award him her $51,000 death benefit. This decision was swiftly challenged by their son, Paul Dhingra, who served as the administrator of his mother’s estate and suggested that the death benefit be diverted there instead.

Last year, Ontario Superior Court justice Andra Pollak ruled that Dhingra wasn’t entitled to his wife’s life insurance benefit writing that, even if he was found to be not criminally responsible, “he still physically committed the crime.”

However, at the end of April, The Ontario Court of Appeal reversed Pollak’s judgement saying the “public policy rule at issue” — that a criminal should not be able to profit from crime — does not apply in this case.

“If a person found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder is not ‘morally responsible’ for his or her act, there is no rationale for applying the rule of public policy,” a three-judge panel decided.

The judge erred when she found Ved Dhingra had “committed second-degree murder,” the court said.

Some members of Ved Dhingra’s family applauded that the previous ruling was overturned. His daughter Lina Dhingra accompanied her father to court and had this to say: “It’s never been about the money,” she told the Star. “It’s that my father should be recognized as someone diagnosed with a mental illness, as one in five Canadians are. I hope this sets a precedent.”

She resolved that any money left over after legal fees would probably be divided among herself, her brother and his dependents. “This was not initiated by my father,” she contended.

The appeal court ordered the money paid to a law firm in trust for Ved Dhingra, but stayed the order for 30 days to allow the attorney general time to decide if he wants to seek forfeiture of the funds.

Under the Civil Remedies Act, the attorney general can ask the courts to have “proceeds of unlawful activity” forfeited to the government, even if a person was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.

For his part, Ved Dhingra has since overcome his maladies that led to his wife’s death. After being treated at Whitby Medical Centre two years ago, his daughter says, “he’s doing much better” and is even doing volunteer work.

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  • Mitch
    May 30, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Interesting case. This will set a president that all mental ill crimes involving murder will still be awarded life insurance death benefits. I think the money should go to the estate.