Samandeep Singh Gill was acquitted last month on charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder after a B.C. Supreme Court judge excluded evidence that was key to the prosecution’s case. (RCMP)

Samandeep Singh Gill was acquitted last month on charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder after a B.C. Supreme Court judge excluded evidence that was key to the prosecution’s case. (RCMP)

B.C. murder cases in jeopardy as accused killer walks free, police slammed for ignoring law

The case revealed IHIT’s ‘egregious’ policy of not complying with search and seizure law, says B.C. Supreme Court judge

A British Columbia Supreme Court judge says the province’s homicide investigation team’s “systemic, flagrant disregard” for the charter rights of accused may impact hundreds of murder cases.

The police failure was uncovered in the case against Samandeep Singh Gill, who was accused of second-degree murder and attempted murder in a 2011 road rage incident in Surrey, B.C., that left one man dead.

In a decision released online Friday, Justice David Masuhara excluded cellphone evidence gathered against Gill that the Crown said was necessary to its case, prompting Gill’s acquittal.

Masuhara says the cellphones were held by police investigators for almost seven years without a judge’s approval, and the failure to apply for an extension was part of a broader policy in place for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

The court heard homicide investigators were given legal advice in 2007 saying they needed to follow search and seizure rules in order to protect their investigations, yet the rules weren’t followed for another seven years.

The judge says testimony at the trial “indicates that there were likely hundreds of files impacted by the blanket non-compliance policy while it was in effect from 2007-2014.”

Attorney General David Eby issued a statement this week saying the province had hired lawyer Craig Jones to review the ruling and provide an opinion on the possibility of a Crown appeal.

“This is a very important case for a number of reasons, both for the families of the victim in the allegations that are at play, as well as potentially for other cases,” Eby said when asked about the case on Friday.

“If there is a possible avenue for appeal, then I would like to know about it and that’s what I’ve asked Mr. Jones to look at.”

Gill was charged in May 2018 in the death of Manbir Kajla, who was shot and killed in 2011 when he left his vehicle to speak to another driver after a collision. The shooter then fired at Kajla’s wife, but missed.

The Crown said it had an audio recording on an iPhone that allegedly captured the shooting. Its theory was that the recording was a “pocket dial” from one of two BlackBerry phones that was inadvertently captured on the iPhone.

The case went cold, but the RCMP’s Unsolved Homicide Unit picked up the investigation in 2016 and went to court to request continued detention of the cellphones police had seized years before.

Court heard the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, or IHIT, had a long-standing policy not to apply to a judge for evidence extension orders under Section 490 of the Criminal Code.

It began when police learned in 2007 they were contravening the charter by not asking for the continued detention of the evidence.

A memo went out to officers telling them to avoid seeking detention on evidence orders in cases where doing so would draw the judge’s attention to their non-compliance, the decision reads.

“The IHIT policy of non-compliance amounts to systemic, flagrant disregard for charter-protected rights. While I cannot with certainty attribute to the police a deliberate decision not to comply with the charter, I find that the RCMP was at best willfully blind towards the charter implications of the policy and of the over-holding generally,” Masuhara said in his ruling.

“There is something particularly concerning about a police policy of deliberate non-compliance with mandated requirements due to the unilateral prioritization of their preferred investigative methods over following the law.”

Gill’s lawyer, Matthew Nathanson, said in a statement Saturday police are sworn to uphold the law, not break it.

“The fact that they chose to ignore the rules for years even after multiple senior members of the crown told them this wasn’t an option, shows a disregard not only for the requirements of S. 490 of the Criminal Code, but for the rule of law generally,” he said.

Nathanson said the court’s ruling emphasized the need for a remedy to maintain the integrity of the justice system.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC Supreme Court

Just Posted

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
B.C. forestry watchdog finds lack of compliance in Nahmint logging

Forest Practices Board says old growth and biodiversity near Port Alberni are at risk

Port Alberni Fire Dept. deputy chief Wes Patterson, right, and another firefighter monitor the front of a garage at Second Avenue and Argyle Street that burned on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Fire starts in empty garage on Argyle Street in Port Alberni

Garage was attached to empty multi-storey commercial building

A painting by Port Alberni artist Robert Hall. Hall uses a technique called Abstract Impressionism. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni artist showcases abstract impressionism

Robert Hall’s paintings on display at Rollin Art Centre until May 29

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

RCMP outside the Nanaimo Ice Centre investigating a report of a suspicious person. The incident resulted in hold-and-secures at two nearby schools, but those emergency procedures have now been lifted. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Man walking around Nanaimo marsh with airsoft rifle concerning to police and nearby schools

Two schools went into hold-and-secure procedures Thursday, May 13

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

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

Most Read