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Man gets four years for shooting sex worker in the back at his Burnaby home

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes said Varinder Singh Deo's shooting of an escort he invited to his Boundary Road home when he was drunk and high on cocaine was "senseless, extremely reckless, selfish."

A 45-year-old man who shot an escort in the back outside his Burnaby home in May 2021 has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Drunk, high on cocaine, and armed with a loaded handgun, Varinder Singh Deo was celebrating his birthday with a friend in the detached garage of his Boundary Road home in the early morning hours of May 2, 2021, when he decided to go online and order an escort.

Two escorts arrived, and an argument ensued.

The women walked away after Deo lifted his shirt to reveal the pistol tucked in his waistband.

But when they were about 20 feet away with their backs turned, he pointed the gun at them and fired two shots, hitting one of the women in the left rear shoulder.

All the while, his wife and children were asleep in the house.

'Senseless, reckless, selfish'

"Mr. Deo's conduct in committing these offences was senseless, extremely reckless, selfish," said B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes during sentencing last Thursday. "It could easily have had fatal effect though it did not."

Deo pleaded guilty in May to two charges related to the incident: aggravated assault and discharging a firearm with intent.

Both offences come with a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Crown prosecutor Daniel Mulligan had called for a five-year sentence and an order to pay one of the women $7,732.46 for the cost of cleaning blood stains from the rental car they drove to Deo's home.

Defence lawyer Mark Swartz argued for a four-year sentence and didn't oppose the restitution order.

Holmes outlined a laundry list of aggravating factors in the case.

Deo had a loaded handgun in his waistband while using alcohol and cocaine.

He fired at the women while they were walking away and had their backs turned.

He fired more than once.

He caused lasting physical harm to one woman and serious emotional harm to both.

He fled the scene right after the shooting, not checking if anyone was injured or calling for help.

He drove away while he was still high and drunk.

He threw away the gun and put the public at even greater risk since it could have fallen into the wrong hands.

He had the gun in his possession illegally for two years.

His victims, as sex workers called to a customer’s home, were "particularly vulnerable to violence."

'Profoundly remorseful'

A "very significant" point in Deo's favour was his guilty plea, according to Holmes.

She also noted he only had one prior, unrelated conviction (for refusing to provide a breath sample); he had had no issues abiding by restrictive bail conditions; and he has strong family support.

Based on letters of support, his lawyer's submissions on his behalf and Deo's letter and apology in court, Holmes said she is satisfied he is "profoundly remorseful for his actions."

Deo developed a "serious" cocaine problem when he was 21 but has been abstinent for a "significant period," according to Holmes.

She said she accepts he is truly committed to steps he's taken to stay sober.

A psychiatrist's report had concluded Deo is at a "low risk" to re-offend if he abstains from alcohol and cocaine.  

Holmes sentenced Deo to four years in prison, minus 30 days credit for time served in pre-sentence custody.

"In my view, in the particular circumstances, a sentence of four years imprisonment will sufficiently denounced the conduct and deter others in similar circumstances while also leaving open the prospect of Mr. Deo eventually rejoining the community as a contributing member," Holmes said.

She also handed Deo a 10-year firearms ban and ordered him to provide a DNA sample and pay one of the escorts $7,732.46 – the amount charged by the car rental company for removing blood stains from the rented car.

Deo has also been banned from contacting either of his victims.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor