British Columbia

Realtor Tanpreet Kaur Athwal found guilty in Surrey mother's murder

Surrey Realtor Tanpreet Kaur Athwal has been found guilty of first degree murder in the death of 33-year-old Amanpreet Kaur Bahia.

Killing was 'act of enormous cruelty,' says judge

Amanpreet Kaur Bahia, a mother of three, was found dead in her Newton home in 2007 in Surrey. (Jugraj Kahlon)

Surrey, B.C., Realtor Tanpreet Kaur Athwal has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 33-year-old Amanpreet Kaur Bahia.

The young mother of three was found dead inside her Newton home in Surrey on Feb. 7, 2007.

A B.C. Supreme Court jury delivered the verdict in New Westminster on Saturday.  Athwal was sentenced to life in prison.

She was suspected of having a romantic relationship with Bahia's husband, court heard.

The husband, Baljinder Singh Bahia, was found guilty of first-degree murder in October 2016 for planning her death using a hired hitman, one of Athwal's clients.

Harpal Sandhu, a relative of Amanpreet Kaur Bahia, previously told CBC News that Bahia was unhappy in her marriage and spent long hours working on the blueberry farm her in-laws owned in Cloverdale, B.C.

At Athwal's sentencing, Justice Miriam Gropper called the murder "an act of enormous cruelty ... driven by inexplicable selfishness."

10-year-old case

Bahia's body was discovered on the kitchen floor by her in-laws, who also lived in the home, when they came back from a doctor's appointment.

She had been stabbed and her throat was slashed. Two of her young daughters were home at the time. 

There were no immediate arrests.

The case went unsolved for years, with police failing to make any significant headway in the investigation until 2011, when undercover police in Saskatchewan spoke to the hitman hired to kill Bahia, Eduard Viktorovitch Baranec, court heard.

Undercover sting

During the husband's trial, the court heard that a 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.

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 Bahia's husband. By then, police suspected he plotted to kill his wife and hired Baranec as a contract killer.​

Baljinder Singh Bahia and Baranec were sentenced to life with no parole for 25 years.

The judge in that case called the crime one of "cold, enormous cruelty."

With files from Tina Lovgreen and Meera Bains.