Appeal Court quashes Surrey drug trafficking convictions, orders new trial

Amrit Singh Rai had been convicted of three counts of drug trafficking after a seven-day trial

A Surrey man who was convicted of trafficking in cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine while operating a recovery home in the city will get a new trial after the B.C. Court of Appeal decided Friday that the trial judge erred in his assessment of the case and quashed the convictions.

Amrit Singh Rai had been convicted of three counts of drug trafficking after a seven-day trial. It was alleged the crimes happened between January 19, 2012 and May 15, 2012 when Rai operated and lived in “Freedom for Life Recovery House,” for people recovering from substance abuse.

The court heard the charges stemmed from an undercover investigation. There is a publication ban on any information that could identify any witnesses or undercover police involved in this case.

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The Crown’s theory was that Rai masterminded a conspiracy to traffic in illegal drugs sold out of Citypoint Towers in Surrey.

Three units were involved in the investigation – units 1902 and 1509 in Tower 2, and unit 1804 in Tower 1.

Justices Robert Bauman and Susan Griffin in their Nov. 1 reasons for judgment – concurred in by Justice Mary Saunders – noted the case against Rai was “entirely circumstantial.”

The appeal court decided to “quash the convictions and direct a new trial,” after finding that the trial judge had “misapprehended material evidence, failed to rule on a central issue involving the admissibility of hearsay evidence, and effectively imposed an evidentiary burden of proof on the appellant to establish an alternative inference to circumstantial evidence.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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