A Surrey restaurant owner who pointed a loaded, prohibited handgun at his staff and struck a female employee with his hand during a cocaine and booze-fueled incident in 2016 has lost his bid in B.C.’s Court of Appeal to have his federal prison term reduced to a conditional sentence order, which is effectively house arrest.
Jawahar Singh Padda appealed a 30-month federal prison sentence for possessing a prohibited loaded handgun and pointing it at some of his employees, to which he pleaded guilty. His lawyer Richard Peck argued at appeal for the sentence to be changed to a conditional sentence order of two years less a day – provincial time – or a shorter sentence followed by three years’ probation.
Justice David Harris upheld the sentence imposed by a Surrey provincial court judge, with Justices Mary Saunders and John Hunter concurring.
“In this case, the judge correctly identified the relevant range and rationale underlying it,” Harris found. “Ultimately the sentence reflected her assessment of the seriousness of the offence and Mr. Padda’s moral culpability. There can be no question but that the offence was serious, not only because of Mr. Padda’s deliberate but unnecessary acquisition of an illegal handgun, but also because of the grave danger to which he exposed his employees.”
The court heard Padda bought the gun illegally for $4,000 in October 2016 for protection at his restaurant, despite having already hired a security firm to protect him and his staff from “questionable acquaintances” who had threatened his employees. Just after midnight on Nov. 1, 2016, Padda entered the restaurant’s kitchen gripping his handgun, loaded it in front of his staff, and pointed it at female employees.
“He was clearly intoxicated; drunk on alcohol and he had also used cocaine,” Harris noted in his Oct. 18 reasons for judgment. “The incident, which lasted about 35 minutes, was captured by video cameras and recorded.”
The recording showed him gesturing as if to cock the gun. At times he appeared to be joking with his staff, at other times he was aggressive. He hit one female employee at least twice with his hand, and pushed her, while he had the gun, which he dropped after grappling with a security guard. The court did not reveal the name of the restaurant.
Despite the incident, Harris said, Padda is a “model citizen whose virtues are widely recognized in the community, even by some of those whose lives were put at risk by his behaviour in committing the offences for which he was sentenced.
“Mr. Padda has made a great success of his life in Canada and contributed significantly to his community both here and in India. He is much loved and admired for his successes and generosity. His community has stood by him throughout,” the judge noted. “All of this makes his commission of the offences in issue, at a minimum, difficult to understand, even incomprehensible.”
Harris found Padda’s crimes “out of character, although some aspects of them may be accounted for by the fact that Mr. Padda had in the years leading up to the incident suffered from depression and developed a serious alcohol problem.”
Peck described his client’s behaviour with the gun as “alcohol-fuelled folly.”