B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Murder conviction upheld in case where Surrey mom was stabbed in front of her kids

Jury in 2017 found Tanpreet Kaur Athwal, aka Sonia Kaur Gill, guilty of first-degree murder in 2007 death of Amanpreet Bahia, 33

A woman found guilty of paying a hitman $15,000 to kill a Surrey mother so she could marry the victim’s husband has lost an appeal of her first-degree murder conviction.

A jury in November 2017 found Tanpreet Kaur Athwal, also known a Sonia Kaur Gill, guilty of first-degree murder in the 2007 stabbing of Amanpreet Bahia, who had been home alone with her two youngest children at the time.

Bahia, 33, was found dead at about 11:20 a.m. on Feb. 7, 2007, in the basement kitchen of the family’s home near Highway 10 and Scott Road. She’d been stabbed more than 30 times in her neck and back.

Discovered by family members, she was found lying in a pool of blood, with one of her young daughters sitting with her body. Two of the girls, who were aged one and three, were at home at the time while her eldest daughter was at school.

READ ALSO: First-degree murder convictions stand in ‘brutal’ slaying of Surrey mother

READ ALSO: Court makes public ‘abbreviated’ reasons for judgment in Surrey Six slaying appeals

Athwal appealed her conviction before the Court of Appeal for British Columbia on three grounds, her lawyer arguing that the trial judge erred in her analysis on admitting hearsay statements, that statements Athwal made to an undercover cop were admitted erroneously without a voir dire hearing, and that the judge should have declared a mistrial after a sheriff misconducted herself at trial. A voir dire is essentially a trial within a trial where the Crown and defence argue on what evidence should be rejected or considered by the court

The appeal court found the trial judge did not err on those three ground and dismissed Athwal’s appeal.

“I would dismiss the appeal from conviction. In my view, the appellant has not established error in the admissibility determinations,” Justice Joyce Dewitt-Van Oosten stated in her March 1 reasons for judgment. “Nor has she shown a basis for appellate interference with the denial of her application for a mistrial.”

“I would not accede to the second ground of appeal,” she added.

Justices Harvey Groberman and Christopher Grauer concurred with Dewitt-Van Oosten.

Last summer, the appeal court upheld the first-degree murder convictions of Eduard Viktorovitch Baranec and Baljinder Singh Bahia, the victim’s husband.

The court heard Baranec told undercover police during a “Mr. Big” operation that Athwal paid him $15,000 to kill the victim because she and Bahia were having an affair and wanted to get married. After the murder, he said, he threw the knife into the Fraser River.

Athwal was in India at the time of the murder.

During “Mr. Big” operations, an undercover police officer poses as a crime boss offering a position of trust in his bogus gang. Through this scenario, the police aim to draw a confession out of their target. There is a publication ban on any information that could identify undercover police in this case.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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

CourtmurderSurrey

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

Just Posted

A woman crosses 176th Street in Cloverdale April 12, 2021. 176th will not host Cloverdale Market Days this year as the popular street fest is just the latest casualty in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale Market Days cancelled again

Organizer says popular street fest will return in 2022

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions against new model; BCSS and its board in favour

Vintage scrapbooks gave way to Instagram and Facebook. (Photo: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)
COLUMN: Prince Philip just got on with it—to our surprise

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis reflects on the passing Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Delta Police Department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit: (from left) Const. Joel Thirsk, analyst Jody Johnson and Staff Sgt. Sukh Sidhu. (Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police respond to rising number of hate crimes

Police have received 15 reports so far in 2021, compared to 12 in all of 2020

Researchers say residents should leave sleeping bats alone while they exit hibernation. (Cathy Koot photo)
Spring ‘signal’ brings White Rock, Surrey bats out of hibernation

Community Bat Programs of BC says it’s best to leave sleeping bats alone

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Most Read