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Get-away driver sentenced in 2017 killing of Surrey man in Abbotsford

Michael Schweiger gets another 8 months in jail in case involving death of Alex Blanarou
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Alex Blanarou of Surrey was killed in Abbotsford on Dec. 28, 2017 at the age of 24. The first of three men to plead guilty in the case has now been sentenced.

The man who drove the get-away car following the 2017 killing in Abbotsford of Alex Blanarou of Surrey has been sentenced to a four-year jail term.

Michael Schweiger, 33, was sentenced Tuesday (Jan. 24) in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver after previously pleading guilty to accessory after the fact to manslaughter.

Schweiger was given credit of three years and four months for time already served, leaving him with an additional eight months in prison.

Blanarou, 24, was shot to death on Dec. 28, 2017 in the 5300 block of Bates Road in Abbotsford. Police arrived on scene to find his body face-down in a nearby blueberry field.

Schweiger was one of three men charged in December 2020.

RELATED: 3 men plead guilty in relation to 2017 killing of Surrey man in Abbotsford

Edrick Raju has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and manslaughter with a firearm and is due for sentencing on Feb. 9.

Islam Nagem has pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a firearm, with his sentencing hearing scheduled for Feb. 22.

In sentencing Schweiger, Justice Joseph Doyle said, although Schweiger did not participate in plans to harm Blanarou and did not have a gun on him on the day in question, his actions afterwards protected the others involved and slowed the course of justice.

“You participated in devastating his family, and no doubt others. You’ll have to live with that for the rest of your life. Hopefully, you can make something of the rest of your life,” Doyle said.

The Crown and defence lawyers submitted an agreed statement of facts, which Doyle summarized.

Schweiger had been in contact with Raju, and there were plans to meet a contact who had cocaine to sell, Doyle said.

On the day of the killing, Schweiger picked up an individual – referred to as witness A – and drove to Nagem’s townhouse on Simon Avenue in Abbotsford. Raju was at the townhouse when they arrived.

The group split up into three vehicles and drove off, with Raju and witness A in a Kia Optima that stopped to pick up Blanarou at a gas station before driving along Bates Road.

Schweiger was the last of the three cars, and he arrived to see the Kia in a ditch, and Blanarou running away.

The judge said Blanarou had been shot by Raju while they were in the car, and Blanarou escaped after they crashed. But he was chased down by Nagem, who fired several more shots.

Doyle said that, even though Schweiger knew Blanarou had been shot, he drove Nagem from the scene, while Raju and witness A were told to take a taxi to an Abbotsford mall.

The judge said Schweiger dropped off Nagem at the townhouse; met Raju and witness A at the mall, where he bought clothing for them; and drove them to the gas station where Blanarou’s vehicle was parked.

The three returned to the townhouse with Blanarou’s vehicle, a Hyundai, which was then driven to Chilliwack and left on a residential street after Schweiger switched out the vehicle identification number for a fake one.

Schweiger later retrieved the Hyundai and gave it to witness A, who was arrested in it about a month later, Justice Doyle said.

Doyle said Schweiger has a lengthy criminal history, dating back to 2015 in Alberta, that includes break-and-enter, occupying a vehicle knowing a firearm was present, possession of a non-authorized firearm, robbery, possession of stolen property, assault and mischief.

RELATED: Mom of Surrey man gunned down in Abbotsford ‘disgusted’ with plea agreements

He moved to Kelowna in 2015, at which time he began using methamphetamine and became involved in the illicit drug trade.

While being incarcerated at the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, Schweiger associated with “undesirable people,” Doyle said.

But the judge said Schweiger “appears to be remorseful” and has accepted responsibility for his role, as evidenced by his guilty plea.

Doyle said Schweiger also has strong family support and, after his jail term is complete, plans to return to Alberta.

The judge agreed with the joint recommendation from both lawyers that Schweiger receive a four-year sentence.



vikki.hopes@abbynews.com

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Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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