First-degree murder convictions will stand for Eduard Viktorovitch Baranec and Baljinder Singh Bahia in the 2007 stabbing death of Bahia’s wife, a Surrey mother of three young children.
Amanpreet Bahia, 33, was found dead at about 11:20 a.m. on Feb. 7, 2007, in the basement of the family’s home in Newton.
Discovered by family members, she was found lying in a pool of blood, with one of her young daughters sitting with her body. Two of the girls, who were aged one and three, were at home at the time while her eldest daughter was at school.
Baranec and Bahia were convicted by judge and jury in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. A third accused, Tanpreet Athwal, was tried separately and was also convicted of first-degree murder. An appeal of her conviction is pending.
Baranec and Bahia challenged their convictions in the Court of Appeal for B.C. but Justice Gregory Fitch found the trial judge had not erred in his handling of the case. Justices Daphne Smith and Susan Griffin agreed.
Fitch noted Amanpreet Bahia had been “brutally murdered,” stabbed more than 30 times in her neck and back. Her husband’s parents, who had been living with the couple at the time, left the house near Highway 10 and Scott Road that morning and returned to find her body in the kitchen.
Fitch in his reasons for judgment noted that Baljinder Singh Bahia was a “person of interest” from the outset. “Athwal was in India when the murder was committed. While the police suspected Bahia may have been having an extra‑marital affair with Athwal at the time of the murder, Athwal was not initially regarded as a ‘person of interest,’” Fitch noted.
The court heard the police investigation foundered until Dec. 5, 2010, when Baranec, who was alleged to have done the killing, became the target of a Mr. Big operation that would also ensnare Bahia and Athwal. During “Mr. Big” operations, an undercover police officer will pose as a crime boss who is offering a position of trust in his bogus gang. Through this scenario, the police aim to draw out a confession.
Baranec was the subject of a Mr. Big operation arising from an unrelated investigation concerning the disappearance and presumed murder of 15-year-old Katelyn Noble in Saskatchewan. The court heard Baranec told undercover police he’d committed three other murders beside Noble’s and led them to where the girl was buried. One of these was an “East Indian woman” he stabbed to death in her Surrey home.
“He said it was arranged by Athwal who paid him $15,000,” Fitch noted. “Baranec said he never met Bahia but, based on what Athwal told him, Baranec understood that Bahia planned the killing, knew when it would take place, and that it was arranged because Athwal and Bahia wanted to get married.”
The court heard Baranec threw the knife into the Fraser River after the killing.