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Family Members Guilty Of Assault


Family members guilty of assault in attack on young bride
Court hears couple were harassed over unwanted marriage
Susan Lazaruk; with a file by John ColebournThe Province

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Surinder Toor did not want her son, Paul, to marry his girlfriend, Reena.
When he insisted, she told the bride she had to pay the family $50,000 for the marriage.

When Reena Toor failed to do so, life for the newlywed couple became a nightmare.

Toor family members assaulted or stabbed the new bride, put glass in her bed, switched her pills, poisoned her food and denied her access to the kitchen and laundry of the extended-family home.

Yesterday, a B.C. Supreme Court jury found Surinder Toor, her daughter, Parvinder Toor, and her niece, Rajwansh Nijjar, guilty of aggravated assault.

Surinder and Parvinder were convicted of uttering death threats, while Surinder and Nijjar were found guilty of committing assault with a weapon.
The jury also found that Surinder was guilty of obstructing justice by threatening Reena if she reported the assault to police.

Details of the attack revealed during the trial were brutal. Toor was stabbed and beaten over the head with a baseball bat, court heard.

After hearing the guilty verdict, 27-year-old Reena Toor said: "I think it's fair, as now I can feel that I got justice. I was totally shocked to hear what I heard in court."

"They came back and convicted all three of everything," added Crown prosecutor Kerr Clark. "You never feel great when someone is convicted, but I think it was an appropriate verdict."

The attack took place on Nov. 23, 2004, near Fraser Street and 46th Avenue in Vancouver after Surinder met Reena at a bus stop after work.

Inside Parvinder's parked car, Surinder hit Reena over the head with a baseball bat and tried to stab her with a 30-centimetre serrated kitchen bread knife as Nijjar held Reena's hair.

Court was told that Parvinder yelled at Reena that she was a prostitute and used drugs, and that both she and Nijjar prevented Reena from leaving the car. They threatened her with death if she didn't transfer her half-ownership of the Surrey house to another cousin, testimony showed.

Reena was able to escape after biting her mother-in-law's hand, causing her to drop the knife -- but not before being stabbed by a second smaller knife that was still sticking out of her stomach when a homeless person later found her sitting on the sidewalk.

All three of the accused categorically and calmly denied all the allegations, insisting they were nowhere near the crime scene that day.

The three testified that they liked Reena and that there were only a few problems when they lived together.

Surinder, 52, who walked slowly and with a cane, testified Reena had once threatened to kill her.

Two of the family's uncles -- Surinder's brothers-in-law, including Harinder Toor, who owns Punjabi Food Centre on Main Street -- also backed up the accuseds' side of the story while on the witness stand.

The attack came seven months after Reena and Paul married, and almost three months after the couple said they were forced to leave the family's Surrey home because they weren't allowed to use the kitchen and laundry.

Reena, who screamed hysterically on the witness stand after defence lawyer Russ Chamberlain accused her of lying to split Paul from his family, also alleged that family members had planted large, jagged pieces of broken glass on her side of her bed.

She also testified that Surinder had demanded she pay her mother-in-law $50,000 to marry Paul and poisoned their food.

Reached last night, Toor said she remains happily married to her husband despite all the couple have been through.

She said that with the trial behind them, they can get on with their lives.
"We do have plans," she said. "But I would rather not comment on them for safety reasons."


© The Vancouver Province 2007