A man accused of pinching a girl’s bottom in a Surrey grocery store has lost a second appeal related to his sexual touching conviction.
Jatin Patel first launched an appeal, in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, of his conviction for touching for a sexual purpose last September in connection with an incident in a Safeway grocery store in Surrey in 2015. But that summary conviction appeal was dismissed by Justice Frits Verhoeven.
“I am unable to conclude that the decision of the trial judge is unreasonable, or unsupported by or contradicted by the evidence, or clearly wrong,” Verhoeven decided. “No palpable and overring error has been shown.”
Patel then tried to appeal Verhoeven’s decision at the Court of Appeal for B.C., with similar results.
“In my view, there is no reasonable possibility of success on an appeal to this court from the reviewing judge’s decision,” Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon noted in her reasons for judgment. “I therefore conclude that it is not in the interests of justice to grant leave to appeal.”
Patel denied the allegation, but the trial judge believed the 13-year-old girl’s version over his. There is a publication ban on evidence that could identify the victim.
At the first appeal, Verhoeven noted the case depended on the trial judge’s assessment of credibility.
“Substantial deference must be allowed on an appeal of this nature,” he stated in his reasons for judgment. “No legal error was suggested in argument and none has been identified. There is no basis upon which the verdict could be set aside. The appeal is dismissed.”
The court heard the girl went with her mom and younger brother to buy ice cream and chocolate topping. She accused Patel of pinching her bottom in an aisle as he walked by.
The girl told the court “we were looking for a topping for our ice cream and that is when I felt him pinch my butt for about five seconds.”
The mom said she twice asked Patel “Hey, did you just touch my daughter” and he denied it both times. She complained to the store manager and police arrested Patel at the store.
The judge who convicted Patel believed the girl, calling her an “impressive witness,” and rejected Patel’s version. At appeal, Patel argued the girl had lied, the judge shouldn’t have believed her and should have acquitted him on a reasonable doubt.