POLITICS

B.C.'s top court rejects appeal for man who killed his girlfriend

10/02/2014 06:29 EDT | Updated 12/02/2014 05:59 EST
VANCOUVER - There was no "miscarriage of justice" when a former Vancouver man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for shooting his teenage girlfriend and dumping her body in an alley, B.C.'s top court has ruled.

In a ruling posted on its website Thursday, the B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed Ninderjit Singh's application to withdraw his guilty plea and order a new trial.

Singh pleaded guilty in March 2013 to killing 18-year-old Poonam Randhawa and was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 16 years. Randhawa was killed in 1999, but Singh went into hiding in the United States for over 12 years.

Singh claimed his plea was invalid because it was involuntary and uninformed, that the judge didn't adequately question his decision, and he wanted to add more evidence from his and his uncle's affidavits.

"I am satisfied there has been no miscarriage of justice and no basis to allow the appeal," wrote Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein for the three-member panel.

Stromberg-Stein said Singh failed to show his choice to plead guilty was impaired or that his cognitive functioning fell below the threshold for understanding his decision.

Singh showed no evidence that his plea was qualified, modified or uncertain, and the trial judge made the necessary inquiry to ensure he understood its nature and consequences, she wrote.

She also questioned the credibility of Singh's affidavit, in which he argued he had been "compelled," "coerced," "cornered," and "railroaded" into pleading guilty by family members and even his defence lawyer.

Included in her ruling was an affidavit from Singh's former defence counsel Russ Chamberlain who deposed his client "was not, from his outward appearance, in a sleepwalking-like state or daze" when he signed instructions to plead guilty and believed his client was fully alert.

Finally, she said the evidence of an eyewitness to the murder, admissions and confessions, forensics, documents and Singh's own post-offence conduct was overwhelmingly in favour of the Crown.

"Inevitably, Mr. Singh would have been convicted of second-degree murder," she wrote. "In all probability, he would have been convicted of first-degree murder," she wrote.

Randhawa and Singh began their relationship when she was 16 years old and he was 20.

A few hours after he murdered Randhawa on Jan. 26, 1999, Singh entered the U.S.

He eluded capture by altering his appearance, gaining weight, growing a beard and even wearing a turban, police said.

His luck ran out in August 2011, when he was arrested while driving away from his home in Riverside County, Calif., about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, with his wife and two young children.

Before the arrest, a highway patrol officer, who had been dispatched as part of a sting operation to pull over the man's big rig and to issue a ticket, obtained thumb prints to confirm his identity.

He was returned to Canada Sept. 8, 2011 to face charges of first-degree murder.