May 17th, 2024

Charges stayed against two accused of drug smuggling


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on May 11, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

The Crown is no longer proceeding with charges against two B.C. men accused of trying to smuggle drugs over the border last year.

Calgary Crown prosecutor Rosie Murphy directed a stay of proceedings Thursday in Lethbridge court of justice against two accused, Sukhdeep Singh Sandhu and Harmanpreet Singh Sidhu. Murphy did not provide the court with a reason for the stay.

A stay of proceedings allows the court to halt legal action against an accused, although the charges can be brought back within a year should evidence warrant it.

Sandhu and Sidhu were scheduled to stand trial for one week beginning June 17 of this year, on charges under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of importing narcotics and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking. They were also charged with smuggling under the Customs Act.

The charges were laid after officers at the Coutt’s port of entry arrested two men who allegedly tried to bring 245 kilograms of methamphetamine over the border into Canada in a commercial vehicle on April 17.

Sandhu and Sidhu, who were released from custody three days later on $1,000 bail and several conditions, reside in Surrey B.C.

Drugs seized at the time have been forfeited to the Crown for destruction, while several other items, which were not described in court, were ordered to be returned to their owners.

The items include the mens’ cellphones, which their B.C. lawyer, Pir Indar Singh Sahota, requested last summer to be returned to his clients because they contain evidence critical to the defence’s case. However, Murphy said during a court hearing on July 13, the phones might never be returned.

“They’re in the possession of the police, and they’re currently being processed, so there’s no timeline at this point as to when, and even if, the phones would be returned,” Murphy said. “They could be subject to forfeiture depending on what’s found on them.”

Sahota told the judge he needed “evidence” contained on the phones, as well as on a GPS system, before he could take a step, and he had been waiting for the information since June when he first made the request. Sahota said he had been told the information on the devices had been downloaded, and the Crown no longer needed them.

“We don’t have any defence except those three items,” he said. “In view of the Crown’s submission, probably we will have to make an application to the court for return of those items so that we can download the evidence from them.”

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