The family of killer Ninderjit Singh gave him $150,000 for false ID, raised cash for surgery to change his fingerprints and lied to police about his whereabouts for more than 12 years, a B.C. Supreme Court judge heard Wednesday.
Crown prosecutor Sandra Cunningham told Singh’s sentencing hearing that his family in both Canada and the U.S. helped him hide from authorities and build a new life after he shot his teenaged girlfriend Poonam Randhawa in 1999.
When Singh was finally arrested in California in August 2011, he thought he was just weeks away from getting the fingerprint surgery and was working on an insurance scam to cover his time off work, Cunningham told Justice Bruce Butler at the Vancouver Law Courts.
She said Singh, who pleaded guilty to second degree murder March 11, should spend between 17 and 20 years in jail before being eligible for parole on the mandatory life sentence.
And she said that any support he claims to have from his extended family is undermined by their conduct while he was a fugitive.
“There is no evidence Ninderjit Singh is a changed person,” she said. “His family shares the same anti-social values he does.”
Randhawa’s weeping mother Madhupreet read a gut-wrenching victim impact statement about the loss of her only daughter, a popular grade 12 honours student at Vancouver’s Sir Winston Churchill secondary when she was slain.
“To lose a loved one is one thing. But the manner Poonam was taken away from us is especially horrific. She was stalked and left in fear before her killing. She was murdered and left in a back alley like garbage,” Madhupreet said. “We are a family who is looking for justice for my daughter.”
She said the fact Singh was on the lam for years made her and husband Rashpal too afraid to leave the house and worried he might kill again.
Cunningham told the hearing that Singh and Randhawa had a volatile two-year relationship she had hidden from her parents, during which he assaulted her, harassed her family with hang up calls and hid in bushes outside her Vancouver house to keep tabs on her.
Singh shot Randhawa in the head at close range as he sat in the seat of a friend’s car after he confronted her about going out with other guys, Cunningham said.
She laid out the intense efforts of Vancouver Police investigators who for years hunted Singh, finding him in California, where he had fled with the help of two friends hours after killing Randhawa.
In the summer of 2011, VPD officers posed as criminals in a Mr. Big undercover investigation targeting Singh’s half-brother Parmjit Soos in Calgary.
“He proudly told his new friends, who he believed were part of a well-organized group of successful criminals, that his brother who was living in California had been on America’s Most Wanted because he murdered his fiancé,” Cunningham said. “He described how he had visited Ninderjit Singh in the States and how he had sent his mother down to see him every year.”
And Soos “continually pressed his friends to arrange an operation for his brother that would alter his fingerprints,” she said.
The police played along, telling Soos they had found a surgeon in Las Vegas, asking for a $5,000 deposit and giving him a cell phone that he was to use only to call his brother. Through the phone, police traced Singh’s number and address in San Jacinto, California where he was arrested, returning to Canada in September 2011.
Soos bragged to undercover police about picking up AK-47s in Vancouver and transporting them to Calgary “in case he needed them.”
And he said he didn’t see anything wrong with Singh’s actions, referring to Randhawa as “that bitch he killed.”
Cunningham quoted telephone calls Singh has made to his wife from jail since his arrest in which he swore at her, degraded her and threatened her with violence. In one call he told his grandmother “to kick his wife in the ribs,” she said.
The calls are proof that Singh remains “an on-going danger to society,” she said, as the wife sat in the front row of the courtroom, her husband’s family all around her.
Randhawa’s cousin Harry said outside court Wednesday that he was shocked at the details of how much Singh’s family had helped the fugitive.
“We hold the family fully responsible for supporting him and helping him evade the police,” he said.
VPD media officer Sgt. Randy Fincham said he couldn’t comment in the middle of the two-day sentencing hearing about why Singh’s family has not faced charges.
Paul Aulakh, the friend who was driving Singh when he killed Randhawa, signed an immunity agreement, Cunningham said in court.
She also said that Aulakh told police he had no idea that Singh had a gun with him or planned to hurt Randhawa.
Aulakh provided police with grisly details of the final minutes of Randhawa’s life, which Cunningham presented in court.
Aulakh and Singh saw Randhawa with her friends near 57th and Cambie. Randhawa got in the back seat of Aulakh’s car, where Singh confronted her about his belief she had been dating other guys.
“Ninderjit Singh then pulled a black semi-automatic handgun from the right side of his body,” Cunningham said. . “Ninderjit Singh leaned over the seat and pointed the gun close to Poonam Randhawa’s head. He was half turned in his seat and had his right leg extended and braced against the floor boards of the vehicle. He was half standing up. As he was pulling up the gun he said: `tell me the truth or I am going to shoot you.’”
“Poonam Randhawa said: `I am not scared of you. Go ahead and shoot me.’”
Aulakh panicked and edged the car forward. He never turned around.
“As he moved his car ahead, he heard one bang. He heard the window behind him shatter and everything went quiet. He stopped the car…..He could hear the air coming through the broken rear driver’s side window. He could smell blood in the car. He looked in his rear view mirror but couldn’t see Poonam.”
The pair dumped her body in an alley where she was found hours later.
“Ninderjit Singh never panicked at all. He was calm after the shooting. He never went into the back seat or touched Poonam Randhawa after he shot her,” Cunningham said. “He never checked to see if she was still alive. He had the gun in his hand. “
The sentencing hearing continues.
© Postmedia, 2013