A former Surrey man who spent three years in jail for a rape he didn’t commit and who was subsequently deported, is now suing the provincial and federal governments, the RCMP, Crown prosecutor and his former defence lawyer.
Gurdev Singh Dhillon was found guilty of sexual assault in 2005, and extradited to India after his release from prison in 2008.
However, in 2013, a B.C. Criminal Justice Branch investigation concluded there had been a “miscarriage of justice” in Dhillon’s case after it was determined DNA evidence was withheld that exonerated him.
In addition to the B.C. minister of justice and the federal attorney general, defendants named in Dhillon’s civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court Feb. 16 include RCMP investigator Ryan Roth, an unknown RCMP member or civilian employee listed only as John Doe, Crown prosecutor Don Wilson and Dhillon’s former defence lawyer Sukhjinder Grewal.
The sexual assault took place in July 2004. At trial, the victim testified she was driven to a Surrey basement suite by two males she described as “East Indian.” A third man was already in the suite, she said, identifying Dhillon as the owner.
Dhillon was the only man to stand trial in the case. After the DNA evidence came to light, two other men were charged.
Dhillon’s lawsuit alleges Roth and John Doe unduly influenced the victim to change her statement to identify Dhillon as her attacker, and also failed to forward DNA analysis to lawyers. It’s also alleged Crown “ought to have known” DNA analysis had been prepared but did not request a copy or provide it to Dhillon or Grewal. Grewal also did not request it, the suit claims.
The document also alleges the Minister of Justice failed to inform Dhillon or his lawyer the case was under special review or that they’d matched the DNA to someone else.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
The suit says Dhillon “lost everything” as a result of the wrongful conviction. As well as losing his freedom while serving his prison sentence, his wife of three years left him, his daughter became estranged and alienated, he lost his job as a millworker and was deported to India and stripped of his permanent Canadian residency.
Before the conviction, the document says, Dhillon was planning a future for his family in Canada and is now a rural farmer “with few economic prospects” living in a village in the the Punjab province of India.
Appeals of both his conviction and sentence were dismissed in 2006.
As reported in The Leader late last year, Dhillon’s charges were finally stayed Dec. 5, 2014 – nine-and-a-half years after he was wrongfully convicted.
His lawyer is also seeking to have his deportation order rescinded.