Chareka gets life sentence for wife’s murder in Canada

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge handed down a sentence of life in prison Tuesday to Zimbabwean man who beat his wife to death with a hammer in front of at least two of their children. Patrick Chareka pleaded guilty in September to second-degree murder.

Patrick Chareka is led into Supreme Court in Antigonish on Tuesday where he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 13 years in the murder of his wife, Otillia Chareka, a professor at Saint Frances Exavier University
Patrick Chareka is led into Supreme Court in Antigonish on Tuesday where he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 13 years in the murder of his wife, Otillia Chareka, a professor at Saint Frances Exavier University

Patrick Chareka is led into Supreme Court in Antigonish on Tuesday where he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 13 years in the murder of his wife, Otillia Chareka, a professor at Saint Frances Exavier University

His wife, Ottilia Chareka, was found in the couple’s Antigonish home after the police received a 911 call for a disturbance. She was taken to hospital but later died. She was a professor in the education department of St. FX.

Police said Chareka beat his wife with a hammer. Prosecutors said Chareka agreed to plead guilty in part so that his children wouldn’t have to testify in the trial. Four of the couple’s five children were home the night of the murder.

“Few can appreciate the terrible toll the murder of their mother has had on the children,” said Crown prosecutor Darlene Oko.

Ottilia Chareka, who was originally from Zimbabwe, was widely known and respected in the community.

Ottilia Chareka, who was originally from Zimbabwe, was widely known and respected in the community.
Ottilia Chareka, who was originally from Zimbabwe, was widely known and respected in the community.

During the sentencing hearing the court heard that Chareka killed his wife as she slept beside their three-year-old daughter as a form of revenge and retribution for Ottilia Chareka’s success.

The Charekas arrived in Fredericton from Zimbabwe in 1993. Chareka had a scholarship to the University of New Brunswick. Ottilia Chareka earned three degrees from UNB in the education faculty and also went on to teach at St. FX.

In 2010, Patrick Chareka had recently lost his job, creating tension in the home as traditional roles changed. There were financial pressures and custody issues.

The court heard that Ottilia Chareka feared for her life, and had visited the police and a home for the victims of violence the day she was murdered. The Crown and the defence made a joint recommendation that Chareka serve 13 years before being eligible for parole.

The couple had moved to Canada from Kenya. Otillia worked as a maid at a Fredericton hotel while achieving her doctorate in education at the University of New Brunswick. She had achieved tenure at St. F.X. and was considered to be an inspiration to many who knew her.

“As a result of his employment status, the children believed that Patrick was deeply troubled by a perceived lack of respect form others, including Otillia,” Oko read from the statement of facts.

“… Otillia shifted from the subordinate role in the relationship, a change which Patrick viewed as offensive … This appeared to be particularly troublesome for Patrick given that he felt he had been responsible for bringing Otillia to Canada and that Otillia’s success was based on his support of her educational advancement.”

Patrick Chareka is no longer in contact with four of his five children. They are in the custody of community services.

Patrick Chareka is no longer in contact with four of his five children. They are in the custody of community services.

According to two psychological assessments ordered by the court, Patrick also suffered from a “delusional disorder” which aggravated his anger toward Otillia. He began to believe that she would take the children and move away.

He made a motion in family court to be granted sole custody and told the children before the March 15, 2011 court date that if he didn’t get his way, he’d take matters into his own hands.

He didn’t get his way and the matter was adjourned until April. The children told Otillia what Patrick had said.

She went to the RCMP, who advised her not to return to the home and put her in contact with the Naomi Society for Victims of Family Violence. With them, she developed a safety plan, but declined to move immediately into a transition house.

She returned home and told her daughters she was planning on moving out the following day. That night as she slept on the living room floor with her three-year-old daughter, Patrick approached her and hit her at least seven times on the head with a hammer.

A teenaged daughter watched the final blows from the stairs. A neighbour, who came to help Otillia, found Patrick “calmly” sitting on the stairs before he went to wash the hammer in the sink.

“As we prepared for the trial, we got to know Otillia,” said Oko outside court on Tuesday.

“She was an inspiration to those who met her and a caring mother. Her children and the community have lost all that.”

Four of the children have been placed in the care of The Department of Community Services. The oldest daughter is 23. She has visited her father, the defence said.

“It is my understanding that she offers him what support she can,” said defence attorney Gerald MacDonald.

“I suspect he does regret his actions … He has told me that he misses her.”

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