COURTS: Drug trial adjourned after one accused shot dead at Burnaby hotel

A drug trial for three accused was adjourned in Vancouver Tuesday after one of the accused, Sukhveer Singh Dhak, was gunned down at a Burnaby hotel on Monday. Wayne Leidenfrost/PNG

KEITH FRASER
VANCOUVER DESI

A drug trial for three men was adjourned Tuesday after one of the accused, Sukhveer Singh Dhak, was gunned down at a Burnaby hotel on Monday.

The trial, which opened last month in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, was to have resumed Tuesday for Dhak, Baljit Singh Pabla and Neville James Rankin.

But during a brief appearance Tuesday morning, prosecutor Sharon Steele asked for an adjournment until Monday.

The adjournment request was granted by the trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice Gail Dickson.

No mention was made of the fatal shooting of Dhak, a high-profile Surrey gangster who died along with his bodyguard, Thomas Mantel, at the Executive Hotel and Conference Centre in the 4200-block Lougheed Highway.

Outside court, the prosecutors declined to comment on where the case goes from here.

But Dan Brien, a spokesman for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, said the Crown’s case against Pabla and Rankin will proceed.

“All three face the same indictment, the same counts, so on Monday the trial will resume.”

Dhak’s lawyer, Emil Doricic, and Pabla, a relation of Dhak, declined to comment outside court.

Dhak was on bail during the trial. Pabla and Rankin remain out on bail.

The prosecutors said during their opening statement that Dhak was the directing mind behind a drug operation that resulted in police seizing more than 18,000 ecstasy pills.

Police charged Dhak, Pabla and Rankin after the pills were discovered in a basement suite on Rupert Street in Vancouver in March 2008.

Also seized were a pill press and paraphernalia to press ecstasy powder into tablets, as well as a quantity of ecstasy powder.

The Crown argued that Dhak gave instructions to Pabla and Rankin as well as supplying the ingredients. The Crown evidence included intercepted calls and surveillance.

Dhak, Pabla and Rankin each entered not guilty pleas to three counts — conspiracy to produce ecstasy, production of ecstasy and possession of ecstasy for the purpose of trafficking.

The three men were arrested following a police dragnet dubbed Project Gateway.

In December 2008, Delta police displayed tables full of $2.4 million worth of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy and automatic weapons.

Police said at the time that a total of 26 drug, weapons and conspiracy charges had been laid against nine people.

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

Dhak was the younger brother of Gurmit Singh Dhak, who was gunned down at Metrotown shopping centre in October 2010.





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