Ninderjit Singh sentenced to life in prison for 1999 murder of teen ex-girlfriend in Vancouver (with gallery)

Ninderjit Singh 1

Ninderjit Singh is shown in an undated court handout photo taken in August 2011 in California. Submitted photo/The Canadian Press

KEITH FRASER
VANCOUVER DESI

A man who spent 12 years on the lam after fatally shooting a Vancouver teen was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 16 years.

Ninderjit Singh, 35, pleaded guilty last month to the January 1999 second-degree murder of 18-year-old Poonam Randhawa.

In imposing sentence on Singh, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Butler said the mitigating factors in the case were not signficant.

He said Singh’s prospects for rehabilitation were nullified by the years he spent avoiding detection.

“The remorse that he expressed in his statement to the court can only be described as too little and far, far too late.”

‘Forethought’ to murder

Singh’s guilty plea, which came on the first day of the trial March 11, deserved only a small amount of credit, added the judge.

“The aggravating factors are many. Mr. Singh’s moral culpability is high. The murder was committed with considerable forethought.”

The unique factor in the case was Singh’s flight from Canada, said the judge.

“This magnified and prolonged the anguish of Ms. Randhawa’s family and friends.”

Singh stood with his head bowed as the sentence was pronounced in the high-security Vancouver courtroom, which was packed with family and friends of the murder victim.

He waved to a small group of his family as sheriffs escorted him out of court. His wife and the mother of his two children wept as she sat in the public gallery.

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Outside court, a cousin of Poonam wiped away tears of his own as he spoke to reporters.

Harry Randhawa said he had “tremendous gratitude” for the work done by the Vancouver police and prosecutors.

“I think it’s a victory for our whole community and especially our family.”

Randhawa said his family had waited for the day for a “very long time” and believed the judge’s sentence sent a strong message.

“We’re happy with the judge’s decision, as far as happiness can go. There’s no joy in this for us.

“Over 14 years, we’ve gone through tremendous suffering, especially when he was on the run. Our lives have been on hold.”

A jilted boyfriend, Singh stalked the beautiful, bubbly girl and physically assaulted her shortly before the murder.

He shot her once in the head before fleeing to California, where he took up a new life.

He altered his appearance, got a new identity with the aid of his family, married and had two kids.

Eluded police

Several times, police nearly caught him, but he managed to evade justice.

Finally, police launched an undercover operation against him and he was arrested in August 2011 and extradited back to Canada.

Singh was initially charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence.

Second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 25 years of parole ineligibility.

The Crown wanted Singh to spend between 17 and 20 years behind bars before he can apply for parole. Singh’s lawyer argued that he should receive the minimum 10 years.

Outside court, prosecutor Sandy Cunningham said she was “extremely relieved” for Poonam’s family and friends that their long ordeal was over.

She said she was grateful to the Vancouver police for finding Singh and putting together and “very strong” case.

“We are very satisfied and so reassured that our rule of law and our system of criminal justice has prevailed, even after 14½ years.”

Court heard that Singh’s family spent thousands of dollars helping the fugitive evade police.

Harry Randhawa said his family holds the killer’s family responsible for their actions and wants police to pursue charges.

Following the sentencing, Vancouver police said the investigation will be reviewed and if there’s enough evidence to support more charges, a report will be filed to Crown counsel.

Police encouraged anyone with information to contact the homicide unit at 604-717-2500.

kfraser@theprovince.com
twitter.com/keithrfraser


Poonam Randhawa's family


Picture 1 of 4

Harry Randhawa, Poonam Randhawa's cousin, speaks to media surrounded by family members at the sentencing of Ninderjit Singh at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, B.C., April 10, 2013. Singh was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Poonam in 1999. Nick Procaylo/PNG

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