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When Chinese-born, West Vancouver-based multimillionaire Gang Yuan was beaten with a hammer, shot twice and his body chopped into 108 pieces in 2015, the simplest part of the story ended with a manslaughter conviction, but the fate of Mr. Gang’s fortune remained very unclear.

Now the Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal from the woman whose identity is protected by a ban but who is described as Mother 1, the first of five women who had a child with Mr. Gang and who claims to be his spouse.

Thursday’s dismissal of the leave to appeal application ends Mother 1′s lengthy legal battle to be declared his spouse which, because Mr. Gang died without a will, would have entitled her to half of his $7- to $21-million estate while Canadian law would have split the rest among his five children.

The B.C. Court of Appeal upheld a lower-court ruling and dismissed Mother 1′s spousal claim last December, finding no “marriage-like relationship” between her and Mr. Gang, even though the two met before he came to Canada and he supported her in China, where she lived with and cared for his parents.

As is customary, Canada’s highest court did not give reasons for its decision on Mother 1′s application.

The dispute over the estate was brushed with notoriety because of Mr. Gang’s untimely and gory death at the hands of once-favoured business partner, Li Zhao.

Court documents from Mr. Li’s B.C. Supreme Court trial in 2020 trial show he disapproved of Mr. Gang’s playboy lifestyle and treatment of women but the two men and Mr. Li’s family shared a large West Vancouver home and got along well enough.

That was until May 2, 2015, when the two fought viciously after Mr. Li believed Mr. Gang first made disparaging remarks about an invention of Mr. Li’s and then compounded the offence by offering to marry Mr. Li’s beloved and only daughter as part of the price of financing the invention.

The documents detail a brutal and prolonged fight between the two men that only ended in the driveway of their home when Mr. Li, who told investigators he feared “life was at risk,” fired twice at close range from a rifle mainly used for shooting rabbits.

Mr. Gang was hit in the neck and died in the driveway.

In finding Mr. Li guilty of manslaughter, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes, in his oral ruling delivered in October 2020, said that’s when things became “unquestionably bizarre.”

Mr. Li attempted to dispose of the body by using power tools to cut it into what the ruling described as “108 discrete fragments.”

The 55-year-old even explained his grisly work in the garage of the home by agreeing with the family nanny, as she passed by, that he had been out hunting and had “hunted a bear.”

Mr. Li had earlier ordered his wife and elderly mother-in-law away from the scene but they eventually asked a family friend to help them call police and Mr. Li was arrested at his home the following morning and charged with second-degree murder.

Justice Schultes ruled the Crown failed to prove the necessary intent to convict on that charge and found Mr. Li guilty of manslaughter and interfering with human remains, sentencing him to 10 years and six months on the two counts.

Because Mr. Li had never asked for bail while awaiting trial and the case was prolonged by delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sentence handed down almost two years ago was reduced to reflect credit for pretrial custody, leaving a total remaining term of two years, four months and eight days to be served for Mr. Gang’s killing.

If Mr. Li did not seek early release, he will have completed his entire sentence by early 2023.

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