Preliminary hearing delayed in human trafficking case

Court proceedings against a Red Deer couple accused of human trafficking have been delayed after a judge ordered the pair to find a new lawyer.

Court proceedings against a Red Deer couple accused of human trafficking have been delayed after a judge ordered the pair to find a new lawyer.

Varinder Sidhu, 50 and Ravinder Sidhu, 47 were charged on April 17 of last year, following a lengthy investigation by an organized crime unit based in Calgary.

They had asked that the charges be heard in the Court of Queen’s Bench with the benefit of a preliminary hearing beforehand, represented by defence counsel Will Willms of Red Deer. Preliminary hearings may be held in provincial court to test the Crown’s case before proceeding to the higher court.

Scheduled for Red Deer provincial court on Monday and today, the preliminary hearing was abruptly abandoned when Crown prosecutor Kent Brown of Calgary advised the court that he had discovered a conflict of interest involving defence counsel and a key Crown witness.

Brown told Judge Bert Skinner that a local RCMP member who was the lead investigator in the case against the Sidhus had been one of Willms’s clients roughly 10 years ago, in connection with an internal RCMP investigation. Brown said he had been unaware of the conflict until last Wednesday, when the member revealed to him that she knows Willms and that he had represented her in the past.

Willms apologized to the court for his oversight, saying he had not recalled witnesses’s business with him until after receiving notice from Brown of the potential conflict.

He said that, while the Sidhus had asked him to stay on as counsel, he felt that an aggressive cross-examination of the witness may be uncomfortable for her and could breach their attorney-client privilege.

Willms pledged to provide as much help as possible to get a new lawyer up to speed on the case.

The Sidhus are to return to court with new counsel on May 31.

Just Posted

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

EDMONTON — Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg marched into the middle of… Continue reading

Alleged sex assault victim details struggles in proposed suit against Toronto school

TORONTO — A former student at an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto… Continue reading

Leaders trade accusations of desperation tactics as campaign heads down to wire

OTTAWA — The three main party leaders accused one another of desperation… Continue reading

Probation for some new Alberta bus, truck drivers after Broncos family pressure

EDMONTON — Alberta’s transportation minister says there will be a two-year probationary… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP looking for missing 64-year-old woman

Red Deer RCMP are asking the public to help find a missing… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer Citizens on Patrol monitoring downtown with new program

Volunteers will patrol downtown Red Deer to help keep the city safe.… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Wednesday Red Deer River Naturalists Flower Focus Group Meeting. When: Oct. 16… Continue reading

Meet the candidates running in Red Deer-Mountain View

Each of the candidates running in the Red Deer-Mountain View riding were… Continue reading

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

EDMONTON — Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg marched into the middle of… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels struggle early, fall to Oil Kings

Oil Kings 5 Rebels 1 It’s been a tough stretch for the… Continue reading

Pick ’Em: No clear favourite on Canadian men’s curling scene this season

The days of just one or two Canadian men’s curling teams being… Continue reading

Brooke Henderson hits hole in 1, leads LPGA Shanghai

SHANGHAI — Canada’s Brooke Henderson hit a hole-in-one and shot a tournament… Continue reading

Alleged sex assault victim details struggles in proposed suit against Toronto school

TORONTO — A former student at an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto… Continue reading

Leaders trade accusations of desperation tactics as campaign heads down to wire

OTTAWA — The three main party leaders accused one another of desperation… Continue reading

Most Read