The paper trail paints a picture of a life unravelling.
Ranbir Dhull, 42, was already known to police and city officials in Saskatoon when he allegedly murdered his estranged wife's cousin on July 2.
Dhull's wife, Amandeep Kaur, reported her 23-year-old cousin Samandeep Jhinger missing around 4 p.m. CST that day. She had been living for two months with Kaur and her two children in a bungalow on a quiet street in Warman, north of Saskatoon.
RCMP found Jhinger's body in that bungalow 12 hours later. Two days later, on July 5, they charged Dhull with first-degree murder.
Outside provincial court, Dhull's lawyer Andrew Mason said he had no idea how or why the lives of the former taxi driver and the young woman from Punjab in northern India came to collide in a tiny Saskatchewan community.
"It's very murky at this point," said Mason.
On the record
Ranbir Dhull first appeared on the public record on Jan. 9, 2019, when he was charged with assault. It was alleged at the time that he had been drinking and then shoved his wife, Amandeep Kaur, during an argument when she tried to call her parents in India. She sustained injuries to her back and head.
At the time, Dhull was a driver with Comfort Cabs in Saskatoon.
The matter went through domestic violence court, which gave Dhull the opportunity to avoid a criminal record if he took appropriate programming and then took responsibility for his actions.
He returned to court in July and then again on August 20. Dhull completed the appropriate courses, pleaded guilty to the assault and was given an absolute discharge.
In October, Dhull applied with the city to renew his taxi driver licence. Licences must be renewed annually. Dhull's application was denied.
Dhull hired lawyer Andrew Mason and appealed the decision. The hearing took place Jan. 6, 2020 at city hall.
The city had learned of the assault — and the absolute discharge — from police on Oct. 1, according to the hearing transcript.
"Every taxi driver shall immediately notify the city of being charged with or convicted of any prescribed criminal offence," licensing manager Mark Wilson said at Dhull's appeal hearing.
"Mr. Dhull failed in his obligation under the bylaw to notify the city that he had been charged with assault."
Dhull won his appeal.
In its written ruling, the License Appeal Board said that even though Dhull had not notified the city that he had been charged with assault, when he applied to renew his licence the matter had been dealt with and Dhull had been given an absolute discharge.
"Therefore, the denial of the licence due to a 'conviction on record' is not supported by both fact and the law," the decision said.
But that's not where it ended.
Ranbir Dhull had been working odd jobs since losing his taxi licence in October 2019, trying to support his wife and kids. Winning the appeal four months later did not mean he automatically returned to driving.
"There's two steps. You have to have a city licence, but you also have to have an affiliation with a brokerage," said Scott Suppes, owner of Riide in Saskatoon. Riide formed when Comfort Cabs and United Cabs amalgamated. Dhull had originally been a driver with Comfort Cabs.
"So what we would do is issue a letter at that point and say he's affiliated as a driver."
Suppes said that when Dhull did get the city approval in January, "at the point we didn't have availability of shifts."
On March 2, Dhull once again ran into trouble.
His wife, Amandeep Kaul, called 911 and reported a second alleged assault. Dhull was charged. This time, as part of the release conditions, the two parties were separated.
Court documents show that Dhull could not live at the couple's home in Warman. He could not contact Kaur, except by text to discuss the children or finances.
Dhull was allowed to return to the house to help with childcare when Kaur was at work, but he had to leave immediately when she returned home. At the time, she worked the night shift at 7-11 in Warman.
This was the family environment that 23-year-old Samandeep Jhinger entered when she moved to Warman from southern Ontario in the spring of 2020.
A girl from Punjab
Samandeep Jhinger was born in a small village in the Barnala district of Punjab, a northern state in India that borders Pakistan. Her parents still live there and were interviewed by a Punjab TV crew after her death.
CBC had the news item translated. In it, her parents reminisce about their daughter and say she planned to return home to visit after getting her permanent residency in Canada. They had been told on July 2 that she had been reported missing.
Her cousin, Jagdeep Jhinger, told CBC in a text correspondence that Samandeep moved to Toronto in 2016 on a study visa. She had family and friends in southern Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Samandeep moved to Warman two months before her death. She was in the process of applying for her permanent residency when she died.
Her funeral service was held July 14 at a Calgary crematorium. Her family declined interview requests. It was broadcast live using the video platform Zoom, with more than 30 people from around the world joining to observe.
Outside court after Dhull's first appearance on the murder charge, his lawyer Andrew Mason said the case is confusing.
"There's no direct relationship between the accused and this young woman," he said.
"I don't have information about the circumstances at all."
A list of seven people Dhull is not supposed to contact while at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre was read into the record at that appearance. They include his estranged wife, Amandeep Kaur, plus Malik Draz, president of the United Steelworkers Local Union 2014, which represents unionized taxi drivers.
Draz is also the provincial NDP candidate for the riding of Saskatoon Westview.
Draz declined requests to explain his relationship with Dhull. A USW official read a prepared statement that said, in part, "Mr. Draz is not involved in this tragic matter ... and is co-operating with authorities."
Ranbir Dhull returns to court July 22.