Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Jan. 19, 2009)

Not Even Close

By Bob Cooper



In September of 2007, 18 year old Lemar Faqirzada was struck and killed while trying to cross a street in Surrey.  A friend of Faqirzada’s who was also struck but survived, said that the car didn’t even slow down.

This week in Surrey Provincial Court, Jesse Paul Sanghera, 31, pleaded guilty to offences that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.  Faqirzada’s family was present in court and was no doubt encouraged by the possible sentence and the judge’s initial remarks in which he called Sanghera’s decision to flee and conceal his involvement “callous and cowardly”. 

Then came the let-down as the judge changed gears and pointed out Sanghera’s clean driving record and the fact that he eventually confessed and said he was sorry.  Based on this, the judge sentenced Sanghera to a one year Conditional Sentence and a two year driving prohibition.   He won’t do one single day in jail. Not one.

I should also mention that Sanghera’s father is charged separately with Public Mischief and Fraud for filing a false police report and giving false information to ICBC in an attempt to cover up his son’s involvement.  He goes to trial in September.

Faqirzada’s family calls the sentence unfair.  I’d call it a joke.  I was very impressed with the dignity and composure they showed outside the courthouse after such a devastating blow.  The Sangheras of this world are always sorry just before sentencing.  If he’d been truly sorry he’d have turned himself in instead of conspiring with his father to further the deception.


A long-standing principle in sentencing is proportionality.  I’m reminded of a submission made some years ago by the prosecutor on an extortion case I had worked.  He said “Your Honor, I’m not asking for the maximum sentence but I am asking you to bear the maximum in mind”.

When the patience of the public finally runs out and mandatory minimums become the norm rather than the exception, the judges will have only themselves to blame.  They have taken the commodity of discretion they consider so precious and squandered it.



Best wishes to the Transit PC who suffered head injuries falling down an escalator while struggling with a suspect at a New Westminster Skytrain Station yesterday.  It was interesting reading the headlines from the different media outlets as they began reporting this story.  Most showed concern for the Constable, such as:

Vancouver Sun – Transit police officer injured stopping fare evader in New Westminster.  That was on their website Friday evening then some editor spotted in and decided it didn’t fit in with their rabid anti-taser campaign.  When the Sun hit my doorstep this morning, the headline read “Officer wounded, suspect Tasered in SkyTrain fight”.  About 5% of the article was devoted to the injured PC while the rest whined over the taser.  Oh, they also mentioned that the suspect was carrying a steak knife as he had when he was arrested for the same thing 2 weeks ago.  Transit Police spokesman Tom Seaman ‘defended the use of the Taser’.  As if he should have to.

Vancouver Province - Transit cop injured in escalator tumble during fare evader arrest

CKNW – Transit cop in hospital after scuffle

CKWX/News1130 – Transit officer hurt following scuffle with possible fare evader

Then, of course, CTV Channel 9 was up to their usual standards with – New Westminster cops Taser fare evader.  They cared so little they couldn’t even get the agency right.

CBC, again as usual, was only slightly better with – Transit police officer injured, Taser used on fare evader during scuffle.  Then, out of 144 comments, they selected the following one to put on their webpage – “If the guy was just running away then it should not have been used”.

Cops remember this sort of thing.

Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2009