Man who shot and killed Surrey sex worker sentenced to 12 years

photo supplied Province of B.C.

For the crimes of robbery and manslaughter, a man who lived in both Delta and Coquitlam was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison following a July 6 B.C. Supreme Court ruling.

Ali Rafid Khudh Khudhair had made arrangements to see Keryane Arsenault, on May 4, 2021.

Arsenault was a sex worker who advertised online and hosted clients at a Surrey townhouse.


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Over a span of 44 minutes, Khudhair and Arsenault exchanged text messages regarding the appointment and directions to her townhouse.

The last text was sent at 8:43 p.m. At 8:51 p.m., Arsenault called 911, telling the operator: “there’s a guy with a gun in my house,” according to the call transcript included in the judgment.

The operator asked her to stay on the line but the recording ended abruptly.

Arsenault’s boyfriend checked on her after hearing strange sounds from her room.

Video of the incident showed Khudhair: “trying to retreat from the confrontation he created by backing out of the room,” wrote Justice Heather MacNaughton.

The man positioned himself between Khudhair and Arsenault, trying to push the assailant out of the room and eventually following him down the stairs.

Khudhair fired one shot. The bullet passed through the soft tissue of Arsenault’s right forearm and entered the right side of her chest cavity, passing through her right lung.

Arsenault underwent surgery at Royal Columbian Hospital. She was pronounced dead that night.

Her boyfriend would later call it: “about the darkest and most bitter experience” of his life.

After the shot, the boyfriend chased Khudhair. He yelled for someone to call the police and eventually wrestled Khudhair to the ground in a brush area near a cul-de-sac. He punched and kicked Khudhair.

During the chase, Khudhair threw his firearm toward some bushes. Police later found the weapon: a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol with the serial number effaced.

The firearm was not registered to Khudhair, who was also not licensed to possess a firearm.


The manslaughter occurred approximately two months after Khudhair and another man robbed a group of friends playing poker in a Burnaby condo.

The two men both waved their handguns around. Khudhair demanded money, striking one man twice in the head.

Khudhair repeatedly told his victim that he would kill him if he didn’t get more money. The victim eventually gave Khudhair approximately $10,000 from a safe.

A victim listed physical injuries, depression, and stress in his relationship as a result of the robbery.


Khudhair grew up in Baghdad, Iraq.

His father, who ran a small market, accepted assistance from the U.S. military.

“As a result, he and his family were the targets of anti-American militia,” according to the judgment.

The family was threatened. Their home was shot at. Both the market and their family home were torched.

In fear of their lives, the family fled to Syria in 2010.

Khudhair attended high school in Syria for several years.

After enduring years of civil war, Khudhair and his family fled to Canada as refugees. Khudhair was 18 at the time.

Defense counsel asked the court to consider that Khudhair was raised in a warzone and fled two war-torn countries.

The sentence

In determining the sentence, Justice MacNaughton concluded Khudhair “engaged in calculated criminal behaviour,” in his efforts to rob Arsenault, who, as a sex worker, “was one of the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Khudhair never intended to engage Arsenault’s services

“[Khudhair] caused the ultimate harm: he killed Ms. Arsenault, an innocent person,” MacNaughton wrote.

Addressing the robbery, MacNaughton noted that Khudhair and his partner, “clearly planned and co-ordinated their activities.”

While Khudhair was charged with using an imitation weapon, “the victims responded as if they believed the weapon was real,” MacNaughton wrote.

Video of the robbery shows Khudhair carelessly handling the imitation firearm, moving it from hand to hand. At one point the magazine fell out and Khudhair put it back in the gun.

If it were a real gun, “there was a risk that something serious could have happened,” MacNaughton wrote.

During the trial, Khudhair apologized to his victims and to his mother and brother.

“He acknowledged that he could not change what he had done or its effects, but expressed how sorry he was,” MacNaughton wrote. “I accept that Mr. Khudhair is genuinely remorseful.”

The justice noted that Khudhair, now 26, is a relatively young offender with a “relatively limited criminal record” who pled guilty to all offences.

Khudhair’s counsel asked the justice to consider that, due to being locked up during the pandemic, Khudhair’s pre-sentence custody was served in more onerous conditions than usual. Aside from frequent lockdowns, Khudhair was unable to have any in-person visits with family or counsel.

“The harsh conditions under which he served his pre-sentence custody should, in my view, be considered as mitigating his overall sentence,” MacNaughton decided.

Khudhair was sentenced to 12 years in prison, with Justice MacNaughton granting him nearly three years’ credit for time spent in pre-sentence custody.

Khudhair has nine years left to serve.


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