Top Court Orders Deportation Of Street Racer Convicted In Vancouver Death

Top court orders deportation of street racer convicted in Vcr death

The Canadian Press
March 6, 2009

VANCOUVER, B.C. Almost a decade after she was run down by a racing car on a Vancouver street, the family of Irene Thorpe says they are thankful to the country's highest court for upholding a deportation order for her killer.

In a 7-1 ruling released Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada set aside a Federal Court of Appeal decision that ordered the government to reconsider the deportation of Sukhvir Singh Khosa to India.

“We hope that her case has been given faith to others to know there can be hope and that justice can prevail,” Sharon Goldberg, a friend of the family, said on their behalf.

She said the decision gave Thorpe's family “some sense of closure.”

“While we are thankful to the Supreme Court for their decision, our lives will always be empty because Irene will not be coming home,” she said.

Khosa was street racing with Bahadur Bhalru in November 2000 when Khosa's car lost control and hit Thorpe as she walked on the sidewalk.

Both men were convicted of criminal negligence causing death in 2002.

The two were given conditional sentences of two years less a day with house arrest, community service and a five-year driving ban. The Immigration Department then moved to send both landed immigrants back to India.

Bhalru left in 2005 but Khosa, who moved to Canada in 1996 when he was 14, fought the deportation order on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

His lawyers argued that he was remorseful, had an otherwise clean record and had good prospects for rehabilitation. They also said deportation to India, which he left more than a decade earlier, would pose hardship for him and his family.

The Immigration Appeal Division refused to rescind the deportation order and he also lost an appeal for judicial review before the Federal Court of Appeal sided with him and set aside the order.

The appeal judges found that the immigration tribunal that ordered the deportation was fixated on Khosa's denial that he was racing at the time of the accident. This was taken as a lack of real remorse.

However, Justice William Binnie, writing for the majority of the high court, said judges must give due deference to the immigration panel's findings.

“The question whether Khosa had shown 'sufficient humanitarian and compassionate considerations to warrant relief from his removal order,' which all parties acknowledged to be valid, was a decision which Parliament confided to the IAD, not the courts,” he wrote.

The appeal court was wrong, he added.

“In my view, the majority decision of the IAD was within a range of reasonable outcomes and the majority of the Federal Court of Appeal erred in intervening in this case to quash it.”

Justice Morris Fish dissented from the majority, saying he felt the appeal judges were right in saying the tribunal placed too much emphasis on Khosa's denial of street racing.

“So much cannot be reasonably made of so little.”

While a full nine-judge panel of the Supreme Court heard the appeal a year ago, only eight judges participated in the final decision because Justice Michel Bastarche retired last June.

Alykhan Velshi, spokesman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, said immigrants to Canada have to obey the law.

“Our government takes a zero tolerance approach to illegal street racing. The Supreme Court's decision is an unmitigated victory for the rule of law,” Velshi said in a statement.

He said the high court decision upholds the Immigration Appeal Division's jurisdiction to decide on deportation and removal issues.

“Khosa lost his status as a permanent resident of Canada due to serious criminality. He is now a foreign national subject to a removal order,” Velshi said.