Peng Sun thought he was going to a party and even brought a gift for the man who invited him to the North Vancouver home.


Image result for Tian Yi Eddie Zhang, 24Peng Sun
But when the young man arrived at the house, he was escorted to a basement room that had been covered in plastic.
He was grabbed and tied up and held captive while his parents in China were subjected to ransom demands.
The victim was put on the phone to his parents at one point, telling his father, “Dad, someone has a gun to my head, they want money.”
During another call, the dad was told that if he did not deliver on the $2.5 million ransom demand, his son’s fingers would be cut off one at a time.
The dramatic tale was outlined Tuesday during the sentencing of Tian Yi Eddie Zhang, 24, who pleaded guilty to the September 2015 manslaughter of Sun, 22.
Zhang also pleaded guilty to the extortion of Sun’s parents. He was initially charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder.
Court heard that while Zhang, who had no prior record, was at the heart of the scheme, he did not expect the victim to be killed and did not participate in the actual slaying.
In imposing sentence a 14-year jail term on the accused, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes called the offences “horrendous and very sad” and noted that they were planned and motivated by greed.
“The confinement involved horrifying conditions for Mr. Sun, who must have been terrified,” said the judge.
The judge accepted a joint submission on sentence from Crown and defence and noted that the jail term was at the high end of the range for manslaughter and reflected Zhang’s “high moral culpability” for the crime.
Zhang’s involvement began when his associate, Casey James Hiscoe, introduced him to a man only identified by the name Jay, who was looking to make money by undertaking a kidnapping by ransom.
The accused was to provide Jay with potential targets and Jay would select an individual to kidnap, according to an agreed statement of facts read into court by Crown counsel Jeremy Hermanson.
Jay chose Sun, whom Zhang had known since 2012, as their intended victim. Zhang knew Sun came from a family of some means and believed the family would be able to pay a significant ransom, said Hermanson.
The uninhabited North Vancouver home of Zhang’s uncle was chosen as the site where the group would hold Sun for ransom.
Following the series of ransom phone calls, the victim’s family transferred nearly $340,000 to a Chinese bank account specified by Zhang.
 Zhang returned to the basement at one point to find Sun lying face down on the ground, being tasered by one of his attackers.
The victim, whose hands and feet were bound and his face nearly covered in duct tape, was motionless and the group later ascertained he was in fact dead. He’d been strangled by a zap strap tightened around his neck.
Zhang was later arrested on a quiet street in North Vancouver after the victim’s body, wrapped in a tarp, was transferred from the trunk of Sun’s Bentley to the trunk of Zhang’s rental car.
One of the ransom calls referred to a gun, but no firearm was recovered.
Zhang, who also pleaded guilty to an unlawful confinement of a money exchange operator in Richmond, will have just under 12 years in jail to serve after receiving credit for pre-sentence custody. He is a permanent resident in Canada and will likely be deported after serving out his sentence.
In a victim impact statement read out by Hermanson, Sun’s father, Cang Sun, said his son, who came to Canada to further his education, was “innocently killed” and would never have hurt anyone.
“Why are the criminals so cruel?” asked the dad.
In her victim impact statement, Hui Li, the mother of the victim, said her tears cannot stop flowing after the loss of her son.
“Although I am still alive, I have lost all of my hope,” she said. Sun’s wife, who has returned to China, also provided a victim impact statement saying she was devastated by the loss of her husband.
David Milburn, a lawyer for Zhang, said there was no doubt the crime was “callous and reprehensible” but emphasized that Zhang himself did not plan the crime and was not the “operating mind” behind it.
Zhang, who is married and has a 16-month old son, said he was full of shame and apologized to the victim’s family.
“I am sickened every time I reflect on my part in causing this tragedy.”
The victim’s family earlier criticized the plea deal, saying they feared that justice would not be served, but B.C. Crown spokesman Dan McLaughlin said in an email that the deal was reached after a “full and careful” review of all of the facts.
“While we respect the views of the family, we hope that ultimately they will appreciate the considerations that went into the decision in this case,” said McLaughlin, who added that if police provide a further report implicating other potential accused, the Crown will conduct a further charge assessment.
Hiscoe, who has also entered guilty pleas, is to be sentenced at a later date.