Court Hears Of Brutal Murder

Marriage, shameful divorce let to cabby's contract killing

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By: Monica Zurowski (Herald writer)

A twisted tale of an arranged marriage, a shameful divorce revenge and contract killers ended with the 1982 slaying of cabby Gurmeet Waraich, a court heard Friday.

Two thugs hired to injure Waraich ended up killing him in a vicious attack with a hammer and screwdriver, said Crown prosecutor Harold Hagglund.

Pal Singh Bhullar paid the thugs to teach Waraich a lesson because he had divorced Bhullar's sister, and divorce is perceived as being shameful in the Shikh community, said Hagglund.

Bhullar, 44, was charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser-included offence of manslaughter in Court of Queen's Bench on Friday.

Bhullar and a relative, Surgat Singh Brar, discussed having Waraich's arm or leg brokern in revenge for the divorce of the sister.

Warraich has told the sister they would divorce briefly so that she could marry Warraich's brother, who wanted to emigrate to Canada from India, and then they would remarry.

The sister later learned Warraich had no intention of remarrying her, but she eventually signed divorce papers in 1981 after Warraich paid her about $9,000 cash.

The following year, Bhullar and Brar talked to a Vancouver acquaintance who arranged for thugs to show Warraich that divorce could not be tolerated.

On Aug. 12, 1982, the thugs hired Warraich and his cab to drive them around Calgary on the pretense of sightseeing. They directed him into an underground parkade in Motel Village, where they repeatedly stabbed him with a hammer.

The screwdriver was embedded in Warraich's skull through his ear. At his autopsy, it took two men to remove the tool.

Warraich was then stuffed into the trunk of his cab while probably still alive, a pathologist told Hagglund.

The official cause of death was asphyxiation due to vomit in his air passage.

"The accused and Brar had a simple plan that resulted in hideous killing," said Hagglund. Brar was granted immunity from being charged in exchange for testifying.

Hagglund argued a stern prison term for Bhullar was needed for deterrence and to show the public that contract killings of beating will "not be allowed to grow in our community."

"Those who hire gangsters to punish others will receive no mercy," said Hagglund.

Bhullars actions also strike at the heart of the justice system, he noted.

"The accused put himself in the place of a judge and judged the victim and imposed a punishment on him."

Defence lawyer David Yanko said Bhullar himself was somewhat of a victim in this incident.

The plan to injure Warraich was initiated by Brar and the Vancouver acquaintance, who then approached Bhullar," said Yanko.

Bhullar paid $5,000 for Warraich to be roughed up. The acquaintance later called Bhullar to tell him Warraich had instead been killed and demanded for another $20,000, which Bhullar was almost blackmailed into paying Yanko.

Yanko argued a five-year sentence would be inappropriate for Bhullar, who has no criminal record, has an excellent work history and had no intention for Warraich to be killed.

Justice William Egbert will sentence Bhullar in May.

Two other men charged with the killing, Eric Gilles Major and James Alan Bell, are scheduled to face trial April 23. Another man, Gerald Raymond Boudreault, was also charged with the killing, but discharged after a preliminary hearing determined there was insufficient evidence against him.


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