Crown seeks four years for two co-accused of slain gangster in ecstasy pills case

Sukh Dhak leaves BC Supreme Court, October 2012, after the morning session of his drug trial. PNG file photo.

KEITH FRASER
VANCOUVER DESI

The Crown is seeking four-year jail terms for two co-accused of  high-profile gangster Sukhveer Dhak, who was shot to death while they were in the middle of their drug conspiracy trial.

Baljit Singh Pabla and James Neville Rankin were charged along with Dhak after police busted an ecstasy pill operation at a Vancouver home in March 2008.

Court heard that Dhak was the operating mind of the ecstasy factory, with police seizing a pill press, more than 18,000 ecstasy tablets and enough materials to make another 93,000 tablets.

The drugs seized were worth $1.1 million and there was a potential to have produced drugs worth millions of more dollars, said the Crown.

Pabla and Rankin were workers in the drug enterprise.

The trial of the three men began in October last year and was adjourned a month later after Dhak and his bodyguard, Thomas Mantel, were gunned down at a Burnaby hotel.

After the trial resumed, B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice Gail Dickson found the two Dhak associates guilty of conspiracy to produce ecstasy and production of ecstasy.

At a sentencing hearing Friday, a lawyer for Rankin requested and was granted an adjournment for Rankin’s sentencing in order to have a pre-sentence report prepared.

Crown counsel Sharon Steele, proceeding with sentencing submissions for Pabla, began her remarks by saying that she would be asking for four-year jail terms for both men.

She noted that while Pabla was not the “controlling mind” of the operation, he had keys to the residence, frequently attended the home and played a “significant” role in the ecstasy factory.

“The motive for this crime was greed,” she told the judge. “The whole point of the enterprise was to make money.”

Mark Jette, Pabla’s lawyer, said his client’s youth was a significant factor on sentencing, noting that Pabla was not quite 20 years old at the time of the offence.

The defence lawyer, who is seeking a conditional sentence for Pabla, argued that his client was just a worker, a key factor in assessing his moral culpability.

The mastermind was Pabla’s cousin Sukh Dhak and there was a decent probability that Dhak’s brother, Gurmit Dhak, was also involved in the drug operation, he said.

“They would appear to have been upper management level and Mr. Pabla was one of the workers.”

Pabla was naive and impressionable, with personality characteristics that could be described as submissive and compliant, said Jette.

“To put it in the simplest terms, he was dominated by the alpha males in his extended family.”

Gurmit Dhak, Sukh Dhak’s older brother, was gunned down at Metrotown shopping centre in October 2010.

In September 2011, following a number of gang-related shootings, the gang task force issued an extraordinary public warning that anyone around Sukh Dhak or his associates in the Dhure group and the UN gang could be at risk.

kfraser@theprovince.com
twitter.com/keithrfraser

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