Gurwinder Singh briefly shed tears of relief, as Judge Maidment finally began to describe the case to prospective jurors, today 7 June 2022 at County Court Victoria. Click to watch the trial live here. Mr Singh had waited almost 5 years for a jury trial. He has been accused of having threatened to kill Mr Kevin Power, formerly an attorney at the Victorian Legal Services Board Commission, at a meeting there with Miss McNamara and Mr Power. Mr Singh denies the accusation. The meeting took place on 19 July 2017, although Singh says that he was only interviewed by police and charged on 8 August 2017, twenty days later. After the police charged him with the threat to kill, they quickly let him out in the community on bail. He is still on bail, nearly five years later, and has married, has two children, and has progressed from a supermarket trolley collector to a supervisor in charge of thirty staff. If convicted he may face up to ten years in prison.
This case is of interest for several reasons:
- The delay in bringing charges - something like 20 days after an allegedly violent threat
- The incongruity of the accused being allowed on bail for five years despite being charged with a violent crime against a lawyer in an institution, which makes one wonder if the police really took the complaint seriously
- The case involves a complaint against the Victorian Legal Services Board Commission by a customer who felt they failed to deal adequately with his complaint against a legal firm,
- The similarities between this case and one involving Shimon Wallis and the Victorian Legal Services Board Commission. Both Wallis and Singh were complaining that their complaints about law firms were not properly dealt with by the Commission. See https://candobetter.net/francis-ronsin/blog/6302/victorian-legal-services-commission-failing-its-public-mission-causing-wide ).
- The VLSBC was the subject of a scathing ombudsman's report in 2009 which is no longer obtainable. This report indicated that the board had many dissatisfied customers. See https://candobetter.net/francis-ronsin/blog/6302/victorian-legal-services-commission-failing-its-public-mission-causing-wide .
- The fact that the prosecution is acting for the Victorian Legal Services Board Commission against a self-representing accused, which is a bit like David vs Goliath (and also resembles the case of Shimon Wallis)
- The fact that both Gurwinder Singh and Shimon Wallis were allegedly overcharged by their legal firms in compensation cases involving huge suffering, which seems sad
I previously acted as a support person for Mr Singh at a pre-trial hearing and I understood from him that he has also attended many pre-trial hearings, and has been repeatedly offered 'diversion' if he pleads guilty, or to plead 'insanity.' But Mr Singh has maintained that he is innocent and therefore refuses to plead guilty. In court today he said that he did not 'choose' to self-represent, but had difficulty finding a lawyer who would defend him without his pleading guilty, something he implied might be due to the power of the VLSBC to grant and remove lawyers' licenses to practice.
Mr Singh told the court that he came to Australia at the age of 24. In 2011, he was driving with a friend when a truck that was on the wrong side of the road collected their car. When Mr Singh woke up in hospital, he had horrific injuries to his brain and his body. He asked about his friend and learned that he had been decapitated. In the most wrenching of circumstances, he met with his friend's parents, who flew to Australia from India on the death of their only son.
Mr Singh cross-examined Miss Jenny Pakula of VLSBC this afternoon, about how the VLSBC had dealt with his complaint against a legal firm. He described having engaged the legal firm in a successful bid for compensation for his injuries, but that he had been overcharged and the legal firm had failed to provide him with an itemised bill within 21 days (in circumstances required under the uniform profession law (s.187). The VLSBC had dismissed the claim and Mr Singh was not satisfied with this. Some correspondence ensued. In the meantime, in December 2017, the Costs Court ordered that this law firm repay Mr Singh over $120,000 which it deemed they had overcharged Mr Singh.
Now into the fifth (5th) year, Mr Singh's case has progressed through four (4) Courts - the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, the County Court, and the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal - and the High Court of Australia (HCA), until today, 7 June 2022, when the trial began at the County Court under Judge Maidment.
Mr Singh will continue the cross-examination of Miss Pakula tomorrow. The trial reopens at 10.30 am. If you want to follow the trial, the link is: https://courts-vic-gov-au.zoom.us/j/69797816787
County Court Victoria
Court 9.4 Judge Maidment