(This column was published in the North Shore News on July 10, 2002)


Pricey defence costs taxpayers

 By Leo Knight

LAST week, Peter Gill got six years for attempting to obstruct justice after seducing and sleeping with a juror empanelled in his first-degree murder trial.


The jury rendered a verdict of not guilty, thanks apparently in no small degree to the deliberation machinations of North Vancouver's most infamous juror.


Had Gill been found guilty in the original murder trial, which, I'd wager, would have been likely without the antics of Gill's paramour, he would have received 25 years before parole eligibility.


Gill was accused of being an integral part of the gang war between the Dosanjh brothers, Jimmy and Ron, and Bindy Johal - now as dead as the brothers he allegedly killed. And the salient message this sentence sends is that it is all right to do what one can to corrupt a juror sitting in judgment.


Take this a step further. The masters of intimidation, the Hells Angels, now have free rein to do what they will to ensure any potential witnesses will not testify when the police, on the rare occasion manage to traverse the legal minefield obstructing their ability to actually get them to criminal court.


After all, it now seems even if the system brings them up for any tampering or threatening, they will only get a fraction of the sentence they might have faced upon conviction of the original charges.


In my view, someone convicted of obstruction of justice or attempted obstruction in an effort to subvert a criminal trial should, on conviction, be sentenced to the same result as would have been received if convicted on the original charge. Anything less is encouraging the activity.


Nuff said.


The other major story of the week was broken by talented National Post columnist Christie Blatchford. She revealed how we taxpayers are paying for the progeny of accused Air India terrorists to "work" on the legal defence team.


The deal seems to have been arranged without the knowledge of Attorney General Geoff Plant. But clearly, someone in the ministry must have some knowledge about the matter.


Thus far, three lawyers have voluntarily disembarked from what surely must be the biggest legal gravy train in the history of Canadian jurisprudence. One of the departed counsel, Gil McKinnon, has also filed a misconduct complaint with the Law Society of British Columbia. No small step, I might add.


He has been replaced by David Gibbons, the same lawyer who confounded the public with his bizarre accusations of police-Liberal conspiracy in his vigorous defence of disgraced former-Premier Glen Clark.


According to McKinnon, there are eight to 10 lawyers representing each of the three accused charged in the largest terrorist attack ever planned on Canadian soil.


Nearly 30 lawyers, all on the clock to defend these men. One of the accused, I might add, has already been convicted of making the bomb that went off on the same day at Narita Airport in Japan, in a premature explosion designed for another Air India flight. He served 10 years in a British jail for that offence.


In fact, it was the same accused, Inderjit Singh Reyat, whose children were exposed by McKinnon for not only collecting taxpayer dollars for dubious work on their father's case, but for allegedly claiming twice the hours they actually worked. On the surface, that would seem to be sufficient information for a criminal fraud investigation.


But, then again, it seems that fraud, as well as bomb-making and murder, must run in the family. Reyat's wife was, in the not-so-distant past, charged and convicted of welfare fraud in New Westminster.


The amount of money in that case was in the tens of thousands. Evidently, this family is happy to collect as much of your money as you are stupid enough to give them.


And speaking of giving, the multitude of lawyers defending the alleged terrorists will be costing me and thee $1 million a month. One million a month!


Yes, they are entitled to a good legal defence. Even the already once-convicted Reyat. But a million dollars a month?


To put it in perspective, that's the same amount of money the feds are spending on Missing Women's Task Force investigation.


We gotta be nuts.







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