Man with gang links begs for chance to stay in Canada

Jimi Sandhu has lived here since age 7, but Ottawa wants him deported

BY KIM BOLAN, VANCOUVER SUN

METRO VANCOUVER — To police, Jimi Sandhu is a violent gang associate and they warned the public about him earlier this year after a murder charge against him was stayed.

To Sandhu and his supporters, he’s just a guy who’s made a few bad choices that shouldn’t cost him his future in Canada.

Sandhu, 26, is appealing an order by the Immigration and Refugee Board to deport him to his native India because of his criminal history.

He told his story Thursday to Immigration Appeal Division member Maryanne Kingma, who reserved her decision on his case.

He came to Canada at the age of seven, adopted by his grandmother as his mom in Punjab wanted him to have more opportunities.

Sandhu said he felt alienated by other family members in Abbotsford who didn’t like how his grandmother doted on him.

He started smoking pot and drinking in Grade 9, getting into trouble in school and later with the police.

“I was hanging around with the wrong crowd. I was hanging around with people who were partying, getting into fights,” he testified.

Some had gang links. Some were selling drugs, he admitted as two Vancouver police officers provided security at the hearing in downtown Vancouver.

He denied murdering Red Scorpion gang leader Matt Campbell in January 2014. He was charged with second-degree murder a month after the fatal stabbing, but that charge was stayed in February 2015 and Sandhu was released from custody.

He didn’t go into details about what happened the day Campbell’s throat was slit outside an Abbotsford car dealership, as his lawyer Peter Edelmann said there’s a chance the charge could be reinstated.

Sandhu described two convictions for assaulting people with weapons to which he pleaded guilty. The first occurred in March 2010 and the pregnant victim told police Sandhu had broken into her home, knocked her to the ground and threatened her with brass knuckles.

He said Thursday that it was actually a friend he brought along who committed the assault, even though Sandhu “took the responsibility and pleaded guilty to that.”

“I will never do something like that again,” he said.

Then there was the incident on Granville Street in February 2012 where he hit two strangers in the head with a brick after an confrontation between them and his friend.

“I didn’t want to see my friend get injured at the time,” he testified. “I regret doing that.”

He admitted that he has had friends in the Dhak-Duhre and United Nations gangs.

But he said that once he met his future wife, a law student, he knew he wanted to change his path.

“I know that path is either go to jail or you die,” he said of his criminal life.

They got married in August. He said he is now living in Edmonton and working, as well as trying to get a limousine business off the ground there.

“I would just like one chance one opportunity to prove myself to you,” he said to Kingma. “I won’t let you down.”

But Sean R. Carey, representing the federal public safety minister, said Sandhu is not rehabilitated and has only made recent changes “to bolster” his appeal.

“There is no evidence of significant rehabilitation in this case,” he said.

Shortly after Sandhu was released from jail last February, “he gets into a car while intoxicated and drives at excessive speeds,” Carey said. It was a rented Jaguar.

In March, Abbotsford police issued the warning that associating with Sandhu could put people at risk because of his gang connections.

“He has testified that he had been affiliated to the Dhak-Duhre group through friends and associates that he previously had,” Carey said.

And he said Sandhu appears to be minimizing his role in the assaults which “shows a lack of remorse.”

He said Sandhu has already been given many second chances “and the public safety minister submits he has squandered them.”

But Edelmann said his client has already started on a new path and should be allowed to continue in Canada.

“He has been in Canada since he was 7 years old. He is essentially Canadian,” he said.