By Shurtz, Delon on March 27, 2020.
Summer months are shaping up to be particularly busy at the Lethbridge court house as cases get adjourned now to reduce the number of people who need to attend court every day during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than a dozen cases heard in court Thursday were adjourned until June in keeping with the provincial directive to adjourn matters for at least 10 weeks. Many of the adjournments are cases the Lethbridge Herald has been covering closely, and include drug busts, thefts, weapons offences and assaults.
Asif Mir was scheduled to enter pleas and set a trial date on charges of importing a controlled substance and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, but his matter was quickly adjourned to June 4. Mir is accused of trying to smuggle $3 million worth of drugs into Alberta last summer.
The Canada Border Services Agency and RCMP reported that on July 28, CBSA officers referred a commercial driver entering Canada at the Coutts border crossing for further examination. While searching his vehicle officers uncovered 33 bags of methamphetamine weighing about 50 kilograms. The meth and the vehicle were seized, and the driver was arrested and turned over to the RCMP.
The CBSA said the seizure of drugs, equal to about 500,000 doses, is the largest meth bust made by the agency in southern Alberta. Some of the bags, each weighing 1.5 kilograms, were dusted with a reddish-orange powder, believed to be a spice and meant to throw sniffer dogs off the scent.
Charges against a man accused of stealing a valuable ammonite fossil from a local mine last year were also in court Thursday but adjourned to June 4.
RCMP reported last summer workers at an open-pit mine south of the city had discovered a rare piece of ammonite not long before the theft occurred July 16. The workers were on a lunch break when they saw an individual enter the mining area, grab the fossil and put it in a backpack. The fossil is from a coiled shellfish that may have lived about the time of the dinosaurs.
Logan Heavy Shield is charged with theft over $5,000 and entering land without permission under the Petty Trespass Act. A co-accused pleaded guilty in February for his role in the theft and was handed a conditional sentence.
Sohil Bindra, who faces more than a dozen charges relating to sexual assaults against several women, was also in court Thursday. However, his case was adjourned to April 24.
Bindra 33, appeared by closed-circuit TV from the Lethbridge Correctional Centre, where he has been remanded since he was denied bail March 6. He previously pleaded not guilty to 14 charges, which comprise housebreaking and commit sexual assault, sexual assault, administering a noxious substance, drug possession and choking with intent to commit an indictable offence.
Bindra initially faced a single charge of housebreaking and two counts of sexual assault in relation to one woman, and he had been released on bail. However, he was arrested again and more charges laid after five more women alleged assaults by him, one of which goes back to July 2017.
Police reported that an 18-year-old woman was sexually assaulted after attending a bar with a friend on Feb. 7. During the evening the pair met a man, and when the 18-year-old suddenly became unwell, he offered to drive the two friends to their homes. After taking the 18-year-old inside, the man left the residence.
He returned a short time later, however, entered the home and sexually assaulted the woman, police said.
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