Woman resembling accused approached paramedics called to Ottawa slaying, court hears

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A paramedic called to a grisly slaying in Ottawa testified Wednesday that she was approached by a woman resembling one of the accused killers as she prepared to leave the scene.

Erin Field said she and her partner were sitting in an ambulance outside a home in the suburb of Barrhaven the afternoon of Jan. 29, 2014, when a woman came up to the passenger side window and asked whether something had happened.

The paramedic already suspected foul play was involved in the death, and didn't want to give away any information about the incident, she told an Ottawa court. So she replied that police were inside the home with the family, she said.

It was only weeks later that Field saw what appeared to be the same woman -- this time on the news, as a suspect in the killing of Jagtar Gill, the woman who died that day, she said.

"I remember seeing a still photograph of her on the news and immediately it crossed my mind that that was the female that approached me in the ambulance," she testified.

Bhupingerpal Gill -- Jagtar Gill's husband -- and his former lover, Gurpreet Ronald, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his wife.

Jagtar Gill's body was discovered beaten, stabbed and with her throat slashed in the family home on the couple's wedding anniversary.

Prosecutors allege her husband and Ronald acted in tandem to murder the 43-year-old mother of three. They argue Bhupingerpal Gill kept their eldest daughter out of the home on errands that afternoon so that Ronald could come in and carry out the slaying.

The Crown has argued Bhupingerpal Gill exchanged several phone calls with Ronald during those errands and met her at a local store. The meeting took place after his wife was dead, prosecutors have said.

Dilpreet Gill called 911 around 1 p.m. after she and her father returned to the home and she found her mother's body in the living room, court has heard.

Court heard Wednesday that Dilpreet Gill's friend was set to come over to study that day and arrived roughly at the same time as the group returned from their errands.

Chantal Allain testified Wednesday her friend was distraught and immediately borrowed her cellphone to call 911.

Allain, who was 15 at the time, said she approached the body after the 911 operator asked her to perform CPR, thinking Jagtar Gill had fallen over in the home.

But when she came closer, the young woman testified, she saw there was "blood everywhere" and the woman's wrist was "incredibly cut up."

Firefighters arrive at the scene before Allain could perform CPR, she said.

One of the firefighters who attended the home told the court Wednesday it was obvious from Jagtar Gill's injuries that she was dead and that the cause wasn't natural. He noted, among other things, that it appeared her hand had been nearly severed.

Field, the paramedic, testified that while she was told the death could be suicide, she quickly suspected it was the result of illegal activity.

She described seeing a "large laceration to the neck and to a wrist," and taking care not to disturb the scene in case of a criminal investigation.

"There were no obvious weapons nearby and just based on the wounds that I observed, in my opinion, there was no way that they could have been self-inflicted," she said.

There also wasn't the kind of blood splatter that would be expected from those types of injuries, she said.

Paramedics were cleared to leave around 1:36 p.m., and the woman approached the ambulance around that time, Field said.

Bhupinderpal Gill and Ronald are being retried after Ontario's Court of Appeal found the judge who oversaw their initial trial failed to properly instruct the jury.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2021.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press