Sobs fill courtroom as cold case culprits sentenced for manslaughter, assault

Sobs echoed throughout the packed B.C. Supreme Court room in New Westminster, B.C., as family members described Amandeep Bath, the young man who died 13 years ago, after he was shot in his car. 

"I still wait for him to come home," Crown attorney Wendy Stevens read to the court, on behalf of the victim's mother, Surjit Bath, who was too upset to speak. 

"There are no words to describe the pain, anger, and despair I felt ... I do not want to live anymore."

Amandeep Bath, 27 at the time of his death, was Surjit's only child. The single mother said she worked double shifts to raise her son. 

In court, the victim's aunt, Kamiljit Khela, said Bath was "the heart and soul" of his mother's life. Khela said his bedroom remains exactly as he left it when he died. 

"He was kind-hearted, smart, honest young man," she said. "This pain is indescribable."

Earlier this year, Parminder Singh Basran pleaded guilty to manslaughter and Bhabjit Singh Aujla pleaded guilty to assault in connection with the death. 

On Thursday, Basran was sentenced to six years in prison and Aujla to 11 months. Because of time already served, Basran will serve five years nine months and Aujla, who gets credit for time served, will serve one day.

The judge also ordered a weapons ban — a lifetime ban for Basran and a 10-year ban for Aujla. 

The case went unsolved for years, until 2013 when the RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team reopened the case and arrested Basran and Aujla.

Argument leads to shooting

According to a 39-page statement of facts released at the sentencing hearing, Bath had been out socializing with friends on the night of Sept. 23, 2004 when Basran and Aujla called him and asked to meet. 

Bath declined, but he came across Basran and Aujla in a pickup truck when he later drove home.

The group got into a heated argument about comments Bath had made about Aujla's family, which led Basran to pull out a gun and shoot Bath in the mouth.

Aujla and Basran fled the scene. Bath later died at Surrey Memorial Hospital. The gun was never recovered. 

Michael Klein, Aujla's defence lawyer, said both the accused had been arrested and charged shortly after Bath died, but the charges were later stayed. 

"These individuals thought they got away," said Khela, the aunt, in court.

Basran expressed the regret and sorrow he felt about his role in Bath's death. 

"It breaks my heart that I have brought all this pain, suffering," said defence lawyer Ian Donaldson reading a statement on behalf of his client. 

"I am here in court trying to make amends. I deeply regret what happened that night."

Speaking on behalf of his client, Klein similarly expressed Aujla's regrets. 

Klein said Aujla, now 33 and the vice president of a wholesale fireworks business, was only 20 at the time — Basran was 19 — and fled the scene of the homicide because he was overwhelmed and scared. 

"His life has been on hold for 13 years," Klein said, adding it was an "unforeseen and unintended death over a trivial matter."

Both of the accused kept their heads bowed as Bath's family impact statements were read. 

Neither had any prior convictions before they participated in Bath's death. 

"What was done cannot be undone," said the judge during sentencing.

"I can only hope that these proceedings bring some close to all the parties as the victim would have wished."