Two other South Asian men have now been charged. But will Dhillon get justice now after RCMP ruined his life?
Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy
SURREY RCMP Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy on Wednesday apologized after special prosecutor Peter Wilson concluded that there was “a miscarriage of justice” in the case of Gurdev Singh Dhillon who was convicted of sexual assault in October 2005 for an offence that was said to have occurred on July 7, 2004.
The Criminal Justice Branch on Wednesday said in a press statement: “This conclusion relates to the fairness of Mr. Dhillon’s trial based on non-disclosure to him of material evidence.”
Wilson has approved a charge of sexual assault against both Mohammed Zaaid Ukhttar and Sital Singh Bhatti in the case.
The CJB said: “An information charging these two persons with sexual assault was sworn on February 12, 2013 in Provincial Court in Surrey. A first appearance in the case has been scheduled for April 5, 2013 in Surrey.”
CBC News reported that Dhillon’s former lawyer Paul Briggs told them that Dhillon was deported in 2008 because, although he was a permanent residence of Canada, he was sentenced to more than two years and that meant he couldn’t fight removal from the country.
“His entire life has been ruined,” Briggs told the CBC. He said he’s trying to get in touch with Dhillon.
And Briggs told Vancouver Sun that Dhillon had a good job in Canada. But after he had been charged, his wife left him and finally divorced him. He was deported after serving two thirds of his four-year sentence.
Briggs said that the DNA of two different people was found on the victim’s underwear and neither sample matched Dhillon’s DNA, according to what the special prosecutor told him. That’s why Briggs wanted the case to be reopened and, if necessary, have another trial.
WILSON has recommended that “Dhillon be provided with full disclosure of the materials reviewed by the Special Prosecutor and an opportunity to apply to have his conviction set aside, either by way of an application to the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal, or by an application for ministerial review under Part XXI.1 of the Criminal Code’ and that “it be left to the discretion of Mr. Dhillon and his legal counsel to determine which course of action to pursue.”
The statement noted: “The case against Mr. Dhillon included an in court identification of him as one of the perpetrators of the sexual assault, and other evidence of his presence at the scene. Based on the evidence before the Court, the trial judge was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Dhillon was one of two men who were alleged to have sexually assaulted the complainant. Following his conviction, Mr. Dhillon was sentenced to four years in prison. Subsequent appeals to the Court of Appeal from both conviction and sentence were dismissed in 2006.”
The CJB said: “In 2011, as a result of ongoing investigation by police into the identity of the second alleged perpetrator of the sexual assault, Crown Counsel learned of the existence of material evidence that had not been disclosed to the Crown either at the time of Mr. Dhillon’s trial or his appeal from conviction. Because this material was not in the possession of Crown Counsel, it was never disclosed to Mr. Dhillon or his counsel at any point.”
On September 23, 2011, then Assistant Deputy Attorney General Robert W.G. Gillen appointed Wilson as a special prosecutor to provide an assessment on whether a miscarriage of justice had occurred. Wilson was given the authority to identify and take remedial steps to rectify the matter if he found there was a miscarriage of justice.
He was given a further mandate to conduct a charge assessment review of any report to Crown Counsel that might be submitted by the investigating agency in relation to other suspects in the case, and to take conduct of any prosecution and subsequent appeals should charges be approved against any other individuals.
An investigative report was subsequently delivered to Wilson by the Delta Police
Department, who had assumed conduct of the investigation from the RCMP.
The CJB said: “Given that this matter now involves an ongoing prosecution, it would not be appropriate to release additional information on the review of Mr. Dhillon’s conviction, or on the charges against Mr. Ukhttar and Mr. Bhatti.”
FORDY in his statement said: “In August 2011, Surrey RCMP sexual offence investigators were reviewing the 2004 complex, multiple offender sexual assault investigation which resulted in the 2005 conviction of Mr. Gurdev Singh Dhillon. They determined that the initial investigation did not sufficiently consider additional avenues, regarding other potential suspects.
“They also determined this information was not shared with Crown Counsel or with Defence Counsel during the original trial.
“As a result, in September 2011 we asked the Delta Police Department to conduct an Independent External Review into this matter, as well as a parallel investigation into the original sexual assault complaint from 2004.
“I recognize, and understand, that the general public will have concerns about this incident. I share those concerns and deeply regret the impacts these mistakes may have had on all those involved. As the Officer in Charge of the Surrey RCMP, I apologize for the mistakes that were made.
“When the mistakes were brought to my attention, I, and other senior managers, took the corrective steps available to us – consulting the appropriate persons within the Criminal Justice Branch, and asking another police department to conduct an independent review and investigation.
“Two more men have now been charged with sexual assault. As these matters are now before the courts, we are unable to comment further”.