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Surrey man deported after wrongful conviction
A Surrey man wrongfully convicted of sex assault seven years ago has been deported, and at present, cannot be found.
A lawyer for Gurdev Singh Dhillon said his client served four years in jail for sexual assault, despite the fact DNA evidence withheld by the Surrey RCMP appears to have exonerated him.
The wrongful conviction destroyed his life, causing him to lose his freedom, his Canadian residency, and his wife, Vancouver lawyer Paul Briggs told The Leader.
In 2005, Dhillon was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman and was sentenced to four years in jail. Appeals to both sentence and conviction were dismissed in 2006.
After serving his time, Dhillon was deported to India. Because he served more than two years, he lost his right to appeal the deportation.
Briggs handled the 2006 appeal for Dhillon. He did not know police were withholding DNA evidence obtained from the victim’s undergarments. The evidence was linked to two other individuals, but not to Dhillon, the lawyer says.
It wasn’t until 2011 that Crown counsel learned of the existence of material evidence that had not been disclosed by police. Special prosecutor Peter Wilson was appointed and Delta Police took over the investigation from RCMP.
Wilson has approved charges of sexual assault in the attack against two men, Mohammed Zaaid Ukhttar and Sital Singh Bhatti.
A B.C. Criminal Justice Branch investigation concluded Wednesday that there had been a “miscarriage of justice” in the Dhillon case.
“This conclusion relates to the fairness of Mr. Dhillon’s trial based on non-disclosure to him of material evidence,” a justice branch release said.
The evidence withheld by police could possibly overturn Dhillon’s conviction, Briggs said.
“Which I would certainly want to do for him if I could find him,” Briggs said.
Dhillon also lost his wife in the process.
“He was actually separated at the time of the alleged offence, but he was trying to reconcile with his wife,” Briggs said. “His wife actually supported him until his appeal.”
When that was dismissed, and he faced being registered as a sex offender and deported, she left him for good.
Briggs said if he’s able to have the conviction overturned and get Dhillon back in the country, there’s a potential for a lawsuit.
Surrey RCMP issued an apology on Feb. 20.
“I recognize, and understand, that the general public will have concerns about this incident,” said Surrey RCMP Officer in Charge Bill Fordy in a release.
“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.”
Neither Crown nor police would comment further as the matter is before the courts.