B.C.’s Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Judge cuts sentence of Surrey drug dealer who was ready for ‘gun warfare’

Judge gave him eight years after Crown, defence argued for five. The appeal court re-set it to five

A Surrey drug dealer who was ready for “gun warfare” has had three years shaved off of his prison sentence by the appeal court.

Justice Catherine Murray on Sept. 10, 2018 sentenced 26-year-old Jagdeep Singh Cheema to eight years in prison – the Crown and defence had jointly argued for five – after he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and firearms-related crimes.

When Murray sentenced Cheema, in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, she noted that drug-related violence in Surrey is “out of control” and Cheema, who used his family’s home as the hub of his drug operation, “was obviously ready and willing to engage in gun warfare.”

READ ALSO: Judge says Surrey drug deal was ready for ‘gun warfare’

“I am not satisfied that the sentence proposed by counsel satisfies the public interest test,” Murray said in her reasons for sentencing. “Rather, it is my view that it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute and cause informed, reasonable people to lose faith in the criminal justice system. Accordingly, I cannot accede to the joint submission.”

Cheema pleaded guilty on April 16, 2018 to one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking heroin, a count of possession for the purpose of trafficking in heroin and fentanyl, and possession of a restricted Spikes Warthog semiautomatic gun, with ammo, possession of a Spikes Hellbreaker semiautomatic gun with ammo, and unsafe storage of a Core-15 semiautomatic gun and a Spikes Kel Tec Sub 2000 9mm-calibre gun.

However, the Court of Appeal for British Columbia has decided to reduce Cheema’s sentence to five years from eight after his counsel argued that Murray erred by rejecting the joint submission, “treating the proceeding as if it were a conventional sentencing and failing to consider factors critical to the public interest,” Justice Gail Dickson noted in her reasons for judgment.

Justices John Hunter and Bruce Butler concurred.

Cheema’s lawyer Richard Peck argued that the joint five-year sentence submission fell within the range established by the case law, Dickson noted, and “would not bring the administration of justice into disrepute, nor was it otherwise contrary to the public interest.”

Cheema was 23 and living with his parents and brother when he committed his crimes. His lawyer at appeal argued that Murray “considered irrelevant and unproven matters by relying on what she saw as the community of Surrey’s preference for significant sentences in the context of drug-related violence.”

Dickson said Cheema’s guilty pleas “saved valuable time, resources and expenses from an administrative perspective” despite the fact they were not entered until the first day of the scheduled trial.

“However,” she added, “the judge did not take these important factors into account.”

The appeal court judge said the five-year sentence proposed was within the range established by case law and that the sentencing judge “cited no authority to justify the eight-year sentence she imposed relative to the five-year sentence jointly proposed by counsel.

“Instead,” Dickson found, “she seemingly relied primarily on her view that drug trafficking and associated violence are problems of epic proportion and that, in consequence, a strong message must be sent to Mr. Cheema and others of like mind.”

“In my view,” Dickson concluded, “given the established range of sentences that applied, it cannot reasonably be argued that the joint submission was unhinged from the circumstances of the offences and the offender to an extent that would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”

She found “there was no basis for the judge to substitute her opinion as to an appropriate sentence for the considered agreement reached by counsel based on their knowledge and negotiations with respect to the guilty pleas.

“The judge erred in principle in rejecting the joint submission. A well-informed member of the public, armed with the knowledge of the circumstances of the offence and offender, would not conclude the joint submission represented a breakdown of the effective operation of the criminal justice system.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Cloverdale students make puzzles for care home residents

Students from Cloverdale’s Sunrise Ridge delivered gifts to seniors and thank you notes to first responders

UPDATE: Pedestrian dies after being hit by bus in uptown White Rock

Collision occurred July 3 at North Bluff Road and Johnston Road

Intent of killing at centre of Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allison Beames is anticipated to return with her decision in August

PHOTOS: South Surrey tractor project evokes ‘$1-million smile,’ helps connect neighbours

Retired Surrey firefighter Ron Henze began project for friend’s dad to fill time during pandemic

Surrey man facing charges related to child pornography

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Greater Vancouver home sales start to tick up, with prices holding steady

Residential sales last month reached 2,443, a 64.5 per cent jump from May

Langley Lodge’s deadly outbreak declared over

Fraser Health and long-term care home administrator confirm Friday declaration

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

Search continues for person seen floating in Coquihalla River in Hope

Rescuers halted the search Thursday night as darkness fell

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

Most Read