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Crime

Surrey restaurant owner who pointed loaded firearm at employees loses court appeal

A B.C. man has lost his bid for a reduced sentence after pointing a loaded handgun at the staff at his pizza restaurant.
A B.C. man has lost his bid for a reduced sentence after pointing a loaded handgun at the staff at his pizza restaurant. File Photo

A Surrey restaurant owner who pointed a loaded illegal handgun at his employees while drunk and high on cocaine in 2016 has lost his appeal for an ease in his sentence.

In a decision posted Friday, the B.C. Court of Appeal denied Jawahar Singh Padda’s bid to have his nearly 30-month federal prison term reduced to a conditional sentence order, which may have led to house arrest. The sentence sought was two years less a day, or a shorter sentence followed by three years probation.

Padda, who owns Gateway Pizza in Newton, pleaded guilty in December 2018 to one count each of pointing a firearm and possessing a prohibited firearm with ammunition.

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The court heard Padda had purchased the handgun illegally for $4,000 in October 2016, which he felt he needed for protection — despite having already hired a security firm to guard against “questionable acquaintances” who had threatened his employees.

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Just after midnight on Nov. 1, 2016, Padda entered the restaurant’s kitchen brandishing the handgun, where he encountered several employees. The court heard he was “clearly intoxicated, drunk on alcohol and he had also used cocaine.”

After loading the handgun, Padda began pointing it at female employees, gesturing “as if to cock the firearm” and switching between a playful and aggressive manner. The gun was never fired, but the court heard Padda struck one female employee at least twice and pushed her while still holding the weapon.

B.C. appeal court overturns controversial dangerous driving ruling
B.C. appeal court overturns controversial dangerous driving ruling

The judge found Padda had “terrorized a woman that he, as her employer, was in a position of trust and authority over,” according to the original sentencing decision.

The 35-minute incident, which was caught on security video that was played in court during sentencing, ended when a security guard grappled with Padda and forced him to drop the handgun.

Justice David Harris called Padda a “model citizen” whose behaviour the night of the incident is “out of character” and “incomprehensible.” He added Padda had suffered from depression and developed a serious alcohol problem in the years leading up to the crime.

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He also noted Padda’s lawyer Richard Peck had described his client’s actions as “alcohol‑fuelled folly.”

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However, he disagreed with Padda’s claim that the sentencing judge ignored precedent when considering the “exceptional” nature of the incident, which has led to conditional sentences in the past.

Crown had argued the judge had properly taken into account the serious aggravating factors of Padda’s actions, which Harris and his fellow justices unanimously agreed with.

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“Ultimately the sentence reflected [the judge’s] assessment of the seriousness of the offence and Mr. Padda’s moral culpability,” Harris wrote.

“There can be no question but that the offence was serious, not only because of Mr. Padda’s deliberate but unnecessary acquisition of an illegal handgun, but also because of the grave danger to which he exposed his employees.”

The upheld sentence also prohibits Padda from possessing a firearm for 10 years.