VANCOUVER Provincial Court Judge Gregory Rideout has stayed conspiracy to traffic in cocaine charges against Arpinder Singh Gill, noting, “I have found the delay in bringing Gill to trial to be extraordinary, with the passage of just over nine years from the date the conspiracy information was sworn until the arrest of Gill.” He added: “This delay is attributed to the Crown.”
Rideout said in his ruling: “In looking at the totality of the circumstances surrounding this case, it is patently clear that the Crown failed to exercise any due diligence after Gill was charged with conspiracy to traffic in cocaine; to either advise him of the specifics of the conspiracy information within a reasonable timeframe; or to take any reasonably diligent steps to request the extradition of Gill from India to Canada, when his whereabouts were known to the Crown. I find the failure to exercise due diligence in complying with s.11(a) and s. 11(b) of the Charter cannot be justified and cannot be condoned, particularly as Gill has not waived any delay nor is Gill to be faulted for any actions which impacted his s. 11 interests.”
He added: “The circumstances surrounding the delay in bringing Gill to trial are serious and on their own would justify a remedy of a stay of proceedings. When I also take into account the circumstances surrounding the breach of Gill’s s. 11(a) right, the remedy of a stay of proceedings is all the more necessary.”
ACCORDING to the ruling, Gill was charged on July 23, 2004, with conspiring with others between January 1 and July 31, 2003, at Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada and the United States, to import cocaine into Canada.
On July 23, 2004, a Canada-wide arrest warrant was issued for his arrest. At the time the information was sworn, Gill was residing in India. He had left for India in September of 2003. Communications were exchanged between Canadian police authorities and police authorities in India concerning activities of Gill as early as January of 2004.
Through 2004 and into February 2005, the whereabouts of Gill in India were known to police authorities in India. This information was relayed to Canadian police authorities who were investigating Gill’s involvement in the alleged conspiracy. Notwithstanding this information, no steps were ever taken by the Crown to request the extradition of Gill from India to Canada.
On August 1, 2013, Gill was arrested after having returned to Canada one week earlier on July 26, 2013, to attend his eldest son’s engagement celebrations in Ontario.
The conspiracy charge arose out of a five-month police investigation known as “Project Longhaul.” Between January and July 2003, the Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia (OCA) targeted Gill as the head of a cocaine and marijuana transportation network.
The Crown alleged that Gill was involved as a principal in a large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy involving the exportation of hundreds of pounds of marijuana going south into the United States and the importation of multiple kilograms of cocaine moving north into Canada.
The Crown alleged that Gill was the transportation network expert who arranged all aspects respecting the pickup and delivery of the drugs in Canada and the United States.
The Crown alleged that this conspiracy resulted in millions of dollars changing hands.
ACCORDING to the ruling, Gill submitted that this case involved allegations from over 11 years in the past and he was now forced to “attempt to reconstruct memories of what he was doing or saying at a particular time, to assist in his own defence.”
Gill noted that he renewed his Canadian passport twice while overseas. He affirmed that as a result of the passage of time, he could no longer remember details of events and conversations which he may have had in 2003. He was unable to recall contact information of potentially relevant witnesses, and any documents that he may have tendered in support of his defence had been lost or destroyed.
He also submitted that it was overly simplistic for the Crown to take the position that Gill need only review the disclosure package to refresh his memory of events in 2003. As a result of the extraordinary passage of time, Gill submitted that he could not be expected to have sufficient recall to make full answer and defence to the allegations that he faced.
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