June 17th, 2024

Bindra facing up to 18 years for sexual assault

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on December 7, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge man who sexually assaulted three women several years ago faces up to 18 years in a federal prison.

That’s the amount of time the Crown recommends Sohil Bindra receive for the assaults and other sex-related offences against the women.

Calgary Lawyer Alain Hepner, on the other hand, is asking the judge to send his 36-year-old client to a federal penitentiary for nine years, and said Monday during a sentencing hearing in Lethbridge provincial court 18 years would be a “crushing” sentence.

Hepner referred to several cases involving multiple sexual assaults in which the perpetrators received lower sentences, and in which the judges demonstrated parity and restraint when they handed down their sentences. He reminded Judge Jerry LeGrandeur that Bindra is a first time offender, and according to case law the sentence recommended by the Crown is “significantly more than it should be.”

Co-Crown Prosecutor Adam Zelmer said the key issue, as in all cases, is ensuring the punishment is proportionate to the severity of the crimes.

“What is the proportional sentence for these offences with reference to the gravity…and degree of responsibility of this offender?” Zelmer said.

He pointed out that determining a sentence for each offence then adding them up would result in a prison term of more than 30 years. The principle of proportionality “as a last look” would then be used to reduce that amount of time so the total sentence is not overly harsh.

Zelmer noted that charges in relation to one of the women alone warrant a sentence up to 15 years if they were to run consecutively.

During his trial last November and December, one of the women testified Bindra assaulted her in his vehicle in the spring of 2018. He was found guilty of sexual assault and administering a noxious substance in relation to the assault against the woman.

Another woman testified Bindra sexually assaulted her after he gave her and a friend a ride home from a bar in February of 2020. He was found guilty of housebreaking and commit sexual assault, sexual assault and administering a noxious substance in relation to that woman.

A third woman told court during the trial that she was too drunk to drive home to Taber following a work Christmas party in December of 2018, and was sexually assaulted after Bindra allowed her to stay the night at his westside home. Although he said she was coming onto him, she testified she did not consent and told him no. He was found guilty of administering a noxious substance and sexual assault.

Bindra, who was also found guilty of possessing cocaine and the substance he used to drug the women, denied the assault allegations and testified during his trial that the liaisons with the women were consensual.

Bindra is set to stand trial next spring and summer in relation to sexual assaults against two other women. He is charged with sexual assault, choking with intent, assault and administering a drug, in relation to one of the women and is set to stand trial on those charges July 31-Aug. 4, 2023. He is scheduled to stand trial April 18-20 in relation to the other woman.

He also faces one additional and more recent charge of sexual assault, which relates to an offence in August 2017 against a sixth woman.

The matter has been adjourned until Dec. 16 to schedule a date, likely in February of next year, for LeGrandeur to give his decision on sentencing.

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