A Burnaby man acquitted of assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend faces a new trial after a successful appeal by the Crown.
Varinder Singh, 46, was charged on Feb. 20, 2018 with assault causing bodily harm, theft of a passport and two counts of threatening to cause death or bodily harm.
The charges arose from incidents involving his common-law partner Claudia Garcia.
The two had met online in 2015 and started living together in Burnaby in July 2017.
Garcia told the court Singh insisted on keeping possession of her passport and described him as extremely controlling over every aspect of her daily life, according to court documents.
When she surreptitiously reclaimed her passport after their relationship broke down in February 2018, Garcia said Singh became extremely angry.
After a verbal confrontation, she said he grabbed her hair, threw her to the ground, choked her, twisted her fingers, scratched her face and punched her numerous times in the chest.
When she refused to give him her passport, she said he threatened to get a knife and kill her and then kill himself.
Singh, meanwhile, testified it was Garcia who had assaulted and threatened him, not the other way around.
He was ultimately convicted of stealing Garcia’s passport but acquitted on the other charges in May 2018.
On Friday, however, B.C. Supreme Court JusticeCatherine Murray ordered a new trial on those charges after a successful appeal by the Crown.
Murray agreed with prosecutor Jennifer Horneland’s argument that the trial judge, James Bahen, had erred in his assessment of the evidence in relation to Singh’s mental health.
At trial, Singh had said that he had “anxiety and depression” and a “panic disorder.”
He also testified he had an “OCD problem” which he was worried might be causing him to swallow coins.
Delivering his verdict, Bahen said he preferred Garcia’s testimony over Singh’s, but that he could not “entirely reject” Singh’s evidence because Singh’s self-reported mental disorders might have made him present himself in an unbelievable way.
Since that left him with a reasonable doubt about Singh’s guilt, Bahen acquitted him.
Horneland argued there was no evidence – no professional medical assessment, for example – before the court to support the conclusion Singh’s evidence could not be rejected because of his self-described mental disorders.
“In my view, the trial judge erred in finding reasonable doubt where there was no evidence capable of creating such doubt,” she said in her ruling.
No date has been set for Singh’s next court appearance.