Barinder (Brian) “Shrek” Dhaliwal will spend one year in prison after being spotted ditching a gun in a row of hedges following a 2016 police pursuit.
Dhaliwal had previously been described by police as linked to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict, was the suspected target of at least three shootings in Abbotsford over the past decade, and was a former associate of the Bacon brothers.
But Justice Thomas Crabtree heard none of that during Dhaliwal’s sentencing hearing Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack.
Instead, Crabtree received five letters testifying to Dhaliwal’s hard-working nature, his improved lifestyle over the past year, and his commitment to volunteerism in the community.
With a single assault conviction in 2009 the only official blight on Dhaliwal’s criminal record, Crabtree said the letters before him “suggested that Mr. Dhaliwal is a hard-working and committed young man.”
The need to deter future criminal activity was important, Crabtree said, but “to a lesser degree [than denunciation] given his background, given his limited record and his involvement in the community.”
The charge before the court stems from a 2016 incident that began with police tailing the Dodge Caravan of a suspected drug dealer to the Dhaliwal family home in Langley.
Dhaliwal hopped in and the vehicle proceeded to Abbotsford, where police attempted to pull it over. The van stopped, but when police officers exited their own vehicle, it sped off.
A pursuit began, but police eventually lost contact with the van. A female witness, though, took note of the vehicle and had already called police as she watched the van pulled to the side of the road in a rural part of south Abbotsford. A man – Dhaliwal – hopped out, and the van sped off.
Dhaliwal then made his way to a series of hedges, deposited what turned out to be an illegal very-small nine-millemetre handgun, then made his way to the witness to ask for a ride back to town. It was at that point that police turned up.
Dhaliwal was later charged with four offences, but pleaded guilty before trial to a single count of being in a vehicle in which a restricted gun was known to be present. At the time of his arrest, Dhaliwal was still subject to a 10-year firearms prohibition dating to his 2009 assault conviction.
It was that prohibition that formed the core of Crown’s argument that Dhaliwal deserved an 18-month jail term. Dhaliwal’s previous criminal connections were not mentioned at his hearing Friday.
And in 2013, he showed up to hospital with a bullet wound after being shot while driving along Downes Road.
Dhaliwal was also a known associate of the Bacon brothers, and his name came up in wiretap testimony at Jarrod Bacon’s 2011 drug-conspiracy trial.
Defence lawyer Donald Muldoon, though, focused on Dhaliwal’s work on his parents’ blueberry farm and as a truck driver.
“This gentleman has a very long and solid work history,” he told Crabtree.
Muldoon did note that Dhaliwal has been out on bail since January of 2017, and that the conditions have been monitored by “near daily” visits by police officers.
Among the letters was one from the longtime proprietor of an Abbotsford wrestling club that testified to Dhaliwal’s willingness to volunteer and drive athletes to out-of-town events.
That letter, Crabtree said, spoke to Dhaliwal’s “bright future.”