Judge denies murderer jury hearing into eligibility for early parole

Judge denies murderer jury hearing into eligibility for early parole

Ravinder Singh Soomel not eligible for full parole before Oct. 13, 2025, almost seven years from now

A man convicted in a North Delta murder in 2000 has lost his bid to have a jury decide whether the time he must wait before he can apply for parole should be reduced.

Ravinder Singh Soomel is not eligible for full parole before Oct. 13, 2025, almost seven years from now.

Gurpreet Singh Sohi, aged 20, was murdered on the night of Sept. 14, 2000, shot dead in his North Delta basement suite in the 11300-block of 88th Avenue. His landlord had called 911 after hearing what sounded like a firecracker coming from Sohi’s suite. Police arrived five minutes later and found him slumped on his sofa, with the murder weapon — a Sten submachine gun with a silencer — lying across his body. Sohi had been shot 16 times — eight times in the chest.

“He also had a number of gunshot wounds to his neck, jaw and head,” Justice George Macintosh noted, in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

The court heard Sohi and Soomel, also age 20 at the time, were involved in exporting B.C. marijuana to the United States and Soomel believed Sohi had participated in the theft of a 150-pound duffle bag filled with pot which Soomel and his associates were planning to smuggle to Washington state. The Crown also theorized at Soomel’s trial that Sohi’s murder was “a planned and deliberate act of revenge” for the Sept. 10, 2000 non-fatal shooting of Soomel’s brother Raj in Vancouver.

The Crown had argued that Soomel “orchestrated” the murder, assisted by four accomplices.

“To summarize, Mr. Soomel was the leader of a planned execution within the drug trafficking battles that are now, tragically, part of life in the Lower Mainland,” Macintosh noted in his reasons for judgment.

During the trial, the court had heard testimony that the machine gun was loaded in Bear Creek Park, from where ammunition was later recovered.

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Soomel was arrested in California on Oct. 3, 2000, and Canadian authorities took him into custody 10 days later. Tried and convicted of first degree murder, he was sentenced in 2003 to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.

Macintosh dismissed Soomel’s application for a hearing into his parole ineligibility. The judge noted that the Criminal Code required him to consider Soomel’s character, conduct in prison, the nature of his crime, any victim information presented, and “any other matters that that the judge considers relevant in the circumstances.”

Macintosh accepted the Crown’s submission that Soomel has “been slow to display deep or unqualified remorse for what he has done.

“I do not find, on the balance of probabilities, that there is a substantial likelihood a 12-member jury would find unanimously that Mr. Soomel’s parole ineligibility should be reduced,” the judge decided. “Mr. Soomel’s marked improvement in the last six years is commendable, but it is not enough. The application is dismissed.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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