British Columbia

Husband and 'hitman' found guilty in Surrey mother's murder

A jury has found Baljinder Singh Bahia and the hitman he hired guilty of first degree murder for the killing of his wife Amanpreet Kaur Bahia in 2007.

Judge sentences men to life calling crime one of 'cold, enormous cruelty'

Amandeep Kaur Bahia's brother Jugraj Kahlon, a criminal lawyer in India, has followed her case since her death, and attended court today to hear the guilty verdict against her killers. (Jugraj Kahlon)

A jury has found Baljinder Singh Bahia guilty of first degree murder for planning the death of his wife and using a "hitman" to carry out the deed. 

The judge sentenced both men to life with no eligibility for parole for 25 years and called the crime one of "cold, enormous cruelty."

The family of the victim, Amanpreet Kaur Bahia, reacted in tears after the sentencing Saturday.

They say there is no real justice, only sorrow, in this case.

"She was very hard working, she was so innocent. And how her life was gone, and how it impacted everybody's life around her, it's very sad. It was very sad to see how she was murdered," said Perminder Chohan, the victim's uncle.

The body of the young mother of three was found inside her Newton home in Surrey in 2007.

Baljinder Singh Bahia and the man he hired to carry out the brutal slaying, Eduard Baranec, heard the verdicts in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Saturday.

Baranec was also found guilty of first degree murder.

Amanpreet Kaur Bahia's brother still mourns his sister,almost a decade after her death. He came from India to hear today's verdict. (Jugraj Kahlon)

A third person, Tanpreet Athwal, is also charged with first degree murder in the case, but has not gone to trial.

The court heard that Athwal and Bahia were suspected of having an affair and allegedly schemed to kill Bahia's wife.

The victim's brother, Jugraj Kahlon, came from India to hear the verdict today, but says there is no real justice in a case like this.

"We are satisfied that justice has been done, but for us it is not a game to win or lose. We are losing from the very first day. And today we also lose. First we lost our sister and now we are thinking about their kids. They're going to not have their mother. They're going to not have their father," he said.

"We are satisfied that justice has been done but we are not happy. We can't be happy. It is only a satisfaction that the person who did this, they have to pay. But this is the satisfaction — maybe now she will be rest in peace."

Cold case

For years, the killing of 33-year-old Amanpreet Kaur Bahia — a mother of three girls — remained a mystery.

The jury heard that her body was discovered on the kitchen floor by her in-laws, who had come back from a doctor's appointment, in February 2007.

She had been stabbed and her throat was slashed. Two of Bahia's young daughters were home at the time. There were no immediate arrests.

Amanpreet Kaur Bahia was found dead in her own home in 2007. (Gurpreet Singh Sahota)

Four years later, police made a break in the case.

First degree murder charges were laid against three people including the victim's husband, Baljinder Singh Bahia.

Undercover sting

This came after an undercover police investigation which started in Saskatchewan.

The court heard that the police sting was underway on an unrelated case when Baranec disclosed information about the Surrey mother's murder and his connection to a realtor named Tanpreet Athwal.

Investigators set up a series of scenarios during which an officer posed as a member of a fictitious criminal organization and Baranec proceeded to brag about Ontario murders he claimed to have committed, which ended up to be non-existent.

Amanpreet Kaur Bahia's family cried after today's verdict, hugging outside the court room. (Jugraj Kahlon)

The Crown presented evidence, including audio recordings, to prove that Baranec was paid $15,000 to carry out Amanpreet Kaur Bahia's murder.

Eventually, an undercover officer met with Baljinder Singh Bahia. By then, police suspected he plotted to kill his wife and hired Baranec as a contract killer.

Baranec's lawyer, Matthew Nathanson, told the court his client confessed to crimes in "enormous detail" to make himself look like a "tough, experienced criminal."

He believed he was talking to a crime boss and wanted acceptance into the criminal organization, the court heard.

But he made mistakes, his lawyer pointed out. 

Baranec claimed to have stabbed Bahia in the chest and made a single cut to her throat.

In fact, she was stabbed in the back and her throat was slit several times, according to a medical expert's testimony.

Key parts of the case included audio recordings made by police and a video-taped confession the victim's husband made to police, in which Baljinder Singh Bahia apologizes to his wife's family for her murder.

Amanpreet Kaur Bahia, 33, was found dead in her home in 2007. (Meera Bains/CBC)