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article imageMiscarriage of justice found after conviction for sexual assault

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By Arthur Weinreb     Feb 21, 2013 in Crime
Victoria - The British Columbia Criminal Justice Branch has determined the conviction of Gurdev Singh Dhillon for sexual assault in 2005 resulted in a miscarriage of justice. The finding was made in a review by a Special Prosecutor.
The announcement [PDF] of the results of the investigation by the Special Prosecutor was made yesterday. On July 7, 2004, a woman alleged she was sexually assaulted in a basement apartment by two men. Dhillon was the only person to be arrested at the time, and he was convicted of sexual assault in October 2005. The trial judge was satisfied of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt based upon the eye-witness identification by the victim and other evidence found at the scene. Dhillon was later sentenced to four years in prison for the attack that was described as "violent."
Dhillon appealed his conviction and sentence to the B.C. Court of Appeal. His appeals were dismissed in 2006.
The police continued their investigation for the second suspect. In 2011, police came into possession of new information and turned it over to prosecutors. Prosecutors did not have these facts prior to the trial and appeal and therefore could not disclose this material to the defense. On Sept. 23, 2011, the B.C. Assistant Deputy Attorney General appointed Peter Wilson as a Special Prosecutor to review Dhillon's conviction. Under British Columbia law, a Special Prosecutor can be appointed in situations where there may be a real or potential conflict of interest with the province's regular prosecutors. As well, the Delta Police Department took over the investigation from the RCMP.
Based upon the new investigation, the Special Prosecution determined Dhillon was not involved in the assault and authorized the laying of charges against two other men. On Feb. 12, 2013, informations were sworn charging Mohammed Zaaid Ukhttar and Siti Singh Bhatti with sexual assault.
Despite the report of the Special Prosecutor, Dhillon remains convicted of sexual assault. He can apply to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada for a further appeal based upon the discovery of new evidence or he can apply to the federal Minister of Justice who can also determine if a miscarriage of justice has occurred and then decide upon a remedy.
Surrey Now reports the RCMP have apologized to Dhillon and admitted "mistakes were made." No DNA testing was done and initially there was no real search for offenders after Dhillon was arrested.
As the Vancouver Sun reports, Dhillon is an Indian national who entered into an arranged marriage with a Canadian and was being sponsored. He faces deportation to India as long as he remains convicted of sexual assault.
Ukhttar and Bhatti are scheduled to appear in Surrey Provincial Court on April 5.
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