KELOWNA – A new trial has been ordered in Kelowna for a man convicted of assaulting his estranged wife in 2013.
In October, 2013 Harjinder Samra and his wife were living together with their 14-month-old daughter. In June 2015 the trial judge heard that in the months leading up to the alleged assault, the couple were having “simmering problems regarding their finances," according to a decision posted online.
“These disagreements came to a boiling point during the early evening of October 16, 2013, when they had an altercation following an argument over family finances,” the decision reads.
Samra’s wife said she returned home from work to find him angry, with credit card and bank statements spread out on the kitchen table. He accused her of taking money from their joint account and called her a thief.
“He told her that he should never have married her. She started crying, as did (their daughter). (Samra) picked up (their daughter) and put her on his shoulder. (His wife) stood with her fists clenched and told (him) to stop berating her in front of their daughter. She says (he) then grabbed her by the neck and held her against a wall, choking her for about 30 seconds.”
Samra denied the assault and told the judge she attacked him, forcing him to defend himself.
“He says (she) was angry about having to account to him for expenses. He told her it was a trust issue. He says she lunged at him, punching him in the upper chest and hit, kicked and scratched him. He used his arm to push her away. He says this was not the first time (she) had hit him.”
During the course of the three day trial, Samra's wife told the judge for the first time that he threatened to kill her, despite never mentioning it to police.
“Mr. Samra did say that he was going to kill me while he was choking me,” she said. “That’s not in my statement but he did say those words to me.”
The trial judge accepted her version of the events and found that the assault had occurred, saying she gave her evidence in a “clear and steadfast” manner, and her story was consistent with photographic evidence showing bruising and red marks.
In his appeal in Kelowna Court last week, Samra’s lawyers argued the trial judge failed to adequately explain why she chose to believe her testimony over his, that she failed to take into account inconsistencies in her evidence and that she applied more scrutiny to his evidence than to hers.
Justice Gordon Weatherill found the trial judge failed to explain how she resolved issues regarding the threat and the wife’s credibility and ordered the case be tried again.
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