Landlord of killed Barrhaven family: ‘I couldn’t believe it’

Landlord Harpreet Chhabra speaks about the family who rented the home home him, saying they were "great tenants".

Nearly two months after a Sir Lankan family was allegedly murdered in Ottawa, their landlord is speaking out.

Harpreet Chhabra told OMNI News the impact of the tragedy has shaken him deeply. It has prompted him to sell the home and half his real estate portfolio.

“It has an impact on you mentally, because that’s a property you bought, that’s a property you bought with your hard-earned money, and you rent it to a reasonable family — and they were great tenants — and this unfortunate event happened to them,” he said. “This property will have some memories for me for sure.”

On the evening of March 6, police responded to a home in the 300 block of Berrigan Drive in Barrhaven. Dhanushka Wickramasinghe was found outside the house yelling for help and was taken to hospital. 

The bodies of Darshani Banbaranayake Hama Walwwe Darshani Dilanthika Ekanyake, 35, Inuka Wickramasinghe, 7, Ashwini Wickramasinghe, 4, Rinyana Wickramasinghe, 2, Kelly Wickramasinghe, 2 months old, Amarakoonmubiayansela Ge Gamini Amarakoon, 40 were found inside.

Chhabra was leaving on vacation when he got a call from officers that night.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It was something you’re not expecting. I was in shock — how can this happen to the tenants and out of millions and millions of houses in Ottawa.”

Police told Chhabra on the phone a suspect, 19-year-old international student Febrio De-Zoysa, was in custody. 

At the time, Chhabra was unaware that the student was living with the Wickramasinghe family.

“Maybe I could have interviewed that person— I don’t know —maybe there was a little bit of chance that this could have been stopped, but there is no such thing in the rule book whereas a landlord you can stop tenants from doing this kind of stuff,” he told OMNI News.

The pre-trial and a preliminary inquiry is set to start next year.

“My thoughts and prayers are always for the survivor, and if there’s anything I can do for him or for anybody else, I will want to do that,” Chhabra said.

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