Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Surrey man found not guilty of smuggling 13 kilos of heroin into Canada

Judge found no forensic evidence linked accused to suitcase, heroin or its packaging

A Surrey man who was accused of smuggling 13 kilograms of high-grade heroin into Canada through the Douglas border crossing on Aug. 18, 2017 has been found not guilty by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in New Westminster.

Justice Neena Sharma noted in her April 1 reasons for judgment that the “sole issue” in the case was whether the Crown had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Gurpreet Mand knew about the heroin that the Canada Border Services Agency found in a suitcase in the trunk of a courtesy car he was driving.

“Although I did not completely believe that Mr. Mand did not know about the heroin, I have a reasonable doubt about his knowledge” she concluded.” I also find on the whole of the evidence, when viewed with common-sense and logic at the forefront, that his knowledge of the heroin is not the only inference that can be drawn.

“Therefore, I find Mr. Mand not guilty of all charges.”

He had been charged with possessing heroin for the purpose of trafficking, and importing it.

Mand crossed into Canada late at night, driving a Hyundai Accent, a courtesy car registered to Sudden Impact Auto Body and loaned to him on Aug. 6, 2017 while his vehicle was being repaired. He testified he had no idea there was a suitcase in the trunk, let alone that it contained drugs.

READ ALSO: Surrey man charged after 13 kilograms of heroin seized at South Surrey border

Sharma noted the auto body business staff clean, wash and vacuum courtesy cars between loan-outs, removing all personal items left behind. Mann testified he crossed the border to meet a friend at a rest area near Custer, about 20 kilometres south of the border. The judge found it “plausible” someone put the drugs in the courtesy car while he was repairing a truck at the rest stop.

The judge noted the RCMP had tested the seized suitcase and outer wrapping from each brick of heroin for fingerprints.

“None of the fingerprints located on the plastic wrap around the heroine originated from Mr. Mand. The fingerprints located on the suitcase were not capable of being compared.”

Staff Sergeant Darin Sheppard, an expert in the pricing, packaging and distribution of heroin told the court that a “heavy user” of heroin might consume one gram per day and the 13 kilograms, if broken down into single grams, would equal a 35 year, or 13,000-days supply. If sold at the kilogram level, the heroin would have been worth more than $1 million, and more than $2 million if sold by the gram. This load of heroin was 85.5 per cent pure whereas the purity of heroin seized is street-level busts is often about 30 per cent.

“No forensic evidence linked Mr. Mand to the suitcase, the heroin or its packaging,” Sharma noted.

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