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Alleged gaybasher tells court he would never use anti-gay slurs

Minhas says another Indo-Canadian man committed the alleged assault

“No one deserves to get hit in the face for making a comment,” Sunjeet Singh Minhas told a Vancouver judge June 13, denying his involvement in an alleged 2011 gaybashing. “You need to be the bigger man and let it go.”  Credit: Thinkstock

Alleged gaybasher Sunjeet Singh Minhas professed his innocence June 13 and testified that he would never use homophobic slurs, since he has many gay friends. 

“Those words did not come out of my mouth,” he told Crown prosecutor Bernie Wolfe in Vancouver Provincial Court, on the fifth day of his trial.

Minhas is charged with one count of assault with a weapon and one count of uttering threats in connection with the alleged Oct 9, 2011, Davie Street gaybashing of Travis James Johnston.

Wolfe asked Minhas if he had been bothered by seeing two men holding hands that night. “That would never upset me,” Minhas answered. “I have a lot of friends who are openly gay, and I’m proud to be their friend.”

“I support the gay community as much as I can,” he continued.

Wolfe then asked Minhas how he supported the gay community. “When a friend came out, I congratulated him,” Minhas replied. He also testified that he knew a lesbian who had difficulty with her strict family.

Wolfe asked him if he ever attended the Pride parade and how often. Minhas told the court that he had in the past, but was often too busy with his job and volunteer work.

Minhas also denied having mouthed “I’m going to get you” at a witness who pointed at him while he was in handcuffs the night of the assault.

He acknowledged that he was upset that he had been arrested and had shaken his head when he saw a man point him out to the police. “I wasn’t angry that he pointed at me,” he said. “It didn’t make me more angry.”

In another line of questioning, Wolfe asked why he didn’t tell police about Wali Rahnumah, the man Minhas now claims he was mistaken for, on the night of his arrest. Minhas replied that he didn’t have all of the information then, since he wasn’t present for and didn’t see the assault.

Wolfe questioned Minhas about his resemblance to Rahnumah. Minhas acknowledged that both his nose and face are broader than Rahnumah’s and that Rahnumah is thinner but explained that they were similarly dressed that night. Minhas said they were both wearing blue jeans and black shoes and he was in a black shirt with gold pinstripes, while Rahnumah was in a black shirt with maroon pinstripes.

Minhas acknowledged that both he and Rahnumah were visible to the other group of witnesses before police arrived but couldn’t explain why they didn’t mention a second brown-skinned man being present.

Earlier in the day, Minhas told the court that the assault was “kind of disgusting.”

Under examination from his defence lawyer, David J Taylor, Minhas told the court that his friend Jeffree Hunter later told him that while he was urinating in an alleyway, a man had approached Hunter and asked to see his dick. He said he was told that Rahnumah took offence to the remark.

“No one deserves to get hit in the face for making a comment,” Minhas said. “You need to be the bigger man and let it go.”

He testified that Rahnumah later apologized to him for getting him in trouble, saying that he ran when he heard the cops and that Minhas should have done the same. He also said that Rahnumah admitted to throwing the umbrella.

Minhas said that after he was charged, Rahnumah said he would come forward to the police but he never did, which essentially ended their friendship.

At the end of the fifth day of the trial, Taylor said he had no more witnesses to call except for Rahnumah. 

Judge Jodie Werier issued a material witness warrant for Wali Rahnumah on June 12, but police had not yet located him. Taylor indicated on June 13 that he intended to apply for an adjournment to the trial, until Rahnumah could testify. Werier suggested waiting over the weekend to see if Rahnumah might show up and directed the Crown and the defence to prepare their closing remarks.

The trial resumes on Monday, June 16.