Ten years after a former Surrey man was wrongfully convicted in the rape of a teen – and subsequently deported – his charges have been stayed.
Gurdev Singh Dhillon was found guilty in 2005 of the sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman the year prior in a basement suite. He was sentenced to four years in jail and after serving his time, was deported to India.
Appeals of both his conviction and sentence were dismissed in 2006.
In 2011, however, Crown counsel discovered material evidence – DNA from two men seized from the victim – that had not been disclosed by police. Neither DNA profile matched Dhillon’s.
A special prosecutor was appointed and Delta Police took over the investigation. In early 2013, the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch concluded there was a miscarriage of justice in Dhillon’s case.
The case was sent to the B.C. Court of Appeal to determine whether the appropriate remedy for the miscarriage of justice was acquittal, a new trial or a judicial stay of proceedings.
A ruling Friday says an acquittal was not appropriate under the circumstances, and a new trial would “not be in the interests of justice.“
The incident took place on July 7, 2004. At trial, the victim testified she was driven to the Surrey basement suite by two males and met a third in the suite. The victim described all three as “East Indian.“ She said was pushed into a bedroom where two of the three males raped her. She said the owner of the suite was one of those men and identified Dhillon as the owner.
Investigators who searched the suite within hours of her complaint found Dhillon passed out on the floor, naked and intoxicated. He was the sole accused to stand trial.
Last year, Dhillon’s lawyer said the wrongful conviction had destroyed his client’s life, causing him to lose his freedom, his Canadian residency and his wife.
The Crown argued a stay of proceedings was the appropriate remedy, while Dhillon’s lawyer argued an acquittal was appropriate.
“While I agree there has been a miscarriage of justice, I do not find an acquittal to be the appropriate remedy. In my view, the fresh evidence is not sufficiently cogent to exclude the reasonable possibility of a conviction,” said Justice Anne MacKenzie in her Dec. 5 reasons for judgment, ordering a stay of proceedings. “The test for an acquittal is strict: the court must be satisfied that no jury acting reasonably could convict on the evidence.“
Mohammed Zaaid Ukhttar, 44, and Sital Singh Bhatti, 35, were subsequently charged with sexual assault in the case. They are scheduled to go to trial in June.