BY RATTAN MALL
THE family of Baljit Kaur Kondolay, 37, who was shot to death as she was getting out of her car in her Langley driveway on April 19, 1998, feels ‘victimized again’ after Sandeep Toor, now 40, who drove the getaway car, was granted unescorted temporary absence (UTA) by the Parole Board of Canada this week.
In December 2000, Sandeep Toor was given a life term in jail with no parole for 12 years. He was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court for the second-degree murder of Baljit. Crown prosecutor Sean Madigan had asked for 15 to 18 years for Toor, saying that he not only assisted in the crime, but also tried to cover it up, all for money.
The victim’s husband, Ajit Singh Grewall, and her stepson (Ajit’s son), Sukhjit Grewall, 21, were convicted of first-degree murder in late October 2000 and were both sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole in January 2001.
Madigan told the court that Baljit was shot at point-blank range “in the forehead, leaving a huge hole, then shot her in the ear.”
Ajit Grewall was still legally married to his previous wife when he wed Baljit, who came from a wealthy farming valley. There was evidence that Ajit was in a tight financial situation and he stood to gain financially from Baljit’s death.
Justice Selwyn Romilly called the murder of Baljit as “callous, cowardly and cold-blooded.” He said it was an act of “mindless violence and brutality.”
Now Kondolay’s family feels they have been delivered another blow.
Kondolay’s daughter, Rupy Sidhu, 37, told The VOICE that Toor had been applying for ETAs (Escorted Temporary Absences) and had done over 350 ETAs in community services. In 2013 she had put up a petition because he had applied for unescorted temporary absence (UTA) or day parole. Their family went to that hearing where his petition was declined.
She said that Toor applied again for UTA or day parole and full parole and “something happened, they postponed it and cancelled it.” There was supposed to be another hearing in 2015-2016 and that got postponed.
Sidhu said that Toor then applied again. This time the application was for an unescorted temporary absence, and it got approved on Tuesday (July 25).
SIDHU in a statement emailed to The VOICE expressed the family’s frustration at the whole process:
TODAY is not a good day for our family.
The UTA hearing is over. Toor was approved UTA and will be released to a halfway house and will engage in community services with the Salvation Army in Victoria. The UTA has been approved for a 60-day period with details to follow of start date and conditions. Once his 60-day UTA is complete he will return to Williams Head Institute. Based on his success he can reapply for another UTA or day parole.
He was approved based on a risk assessment where support workers reported that he has made a turning point and he has continuously improved his behaviour and attitude with a focus on honesty. “They” believe in the last 2 years he has expressed feelings of remorse for the murder of my mother.
Truth be told, all attributes and reasons for approval were purely a check box to free up a bed, in a resort like prison, to make room for another inmate. There is no empathy or remorse for the murder of my mother. All statements made by Toor were well rehearsed. He presented no different in the last hearing when he was denied.
My family and I went to this hearing in hopes he would be denied and to be my mother’s voice and we were not heard – my mother did not receive justice. Toor will continue on with life while we continue to serve a life sentence of grief. The justice system in Canada is in favour of such criminals, not victims. There is no rehabilitation for such heinous crimes.
Today’s outcome is very disappointing and I pray for our communities’ safety and those in the Victoria area. He will be out there and I truly believe he will reoffend when given the opportunity to make a quick buck, even if it’s to take one’s life….we have been victimized again by the Parole Board’s decision to approve Toor’s UTA.