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B.C. man shot sex worker in the back during drug-fuelled birthday, court hears

The lobby of B.C. Supreme Court in downtown Vancouver is seen in a CTV News file image. The lobby of B.C. Supreme Court in downtown Vancouver is seen in a CTV News file image.
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A man from B.C.'s Lower Mainland has been sentenced to four years behind bars after shooting a sex worker in the back during a drug-fuelled 43rd birthday.

The violent incident unfolded in May 2021, as Varinder Singh Deo was celebrating his birthday in the garage of his Burnaby home, according to a B.C. Supreme Court decision posted online this week.

"He was drinking and consuming cocaine with a friend while his wife and children were sleeping in the house," wrote Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes.

The court heard Deo invited an escort to his garage, and that two women – referred to by the initials B.K. and M.C. – arrived together on the understanding there were two men at the property.

But Deo quarrelled with B.K., accusing her of looking "different from the photograph posted online with her advertisement," Holmes wrote in her November 2023 decision.

Deo then argued over whether he should have to pay a cancellation fee. When the escort asked if she needed to call someone for help, Deo flashed a handgun in his waistband.

The court heard B.K. and M.C. then turned and were walking back toward their car when Deo opened fire in their direction, sending two bullets into his residential neighbourhood.

One of those bullets struck M.C. in her shoulder and exited through her chest.

Physical and emotional injuries

Holmes noted the victim's gunshot wound was serious, requiring three days of treatment in hospital and leaving her with nerve damage from her shoulder to fingertips.

"Scar tissue on her arm and in the middle of her chest are constant reminders of the trauma she suffered," the justice wrote.

"In addition to her physical injuries, M.C. has understandably been left with almost constant fear and paranoia, and a sense of being emotionally overwhelmed. She has difficulty being around people – for example, at gyms – and her relationships have deteriorated."

While B.K. was not physically injured, the court heard she, too, suffered a lasting emotional toll from the shooting.

"She will never forget her friend M.C. almost dying in the car, and asking her to tell her daughter she loves her," Holmes wrote.

B.K. has also struggled to trust men since the encounter, and will "no longer let a man stand behind her," the justice added.

Shooter's circumstances

The court hear Deo grew up in Vancouver and Burnaby with a supportive family, but developed a cocaine problem after turning 21 years old.

He battled addiction until getting clean in his late-20s for a period of around 12 years – then relapsed when he was 40.

"He began to use more and more frequently, often with friends, and would drink alcohol to come down from the high," Holmes wrote. "His wife was not happy about the situation, but appears to have been unaware of the full extent of his substance use."

Deo told police his violent outburst on the night of his 43rd birthday was prompted, in part, by a traumatic incident that happened after a previous attempt to hire an escort.

After arranging to meet the woman at an apartment, Deo said he arrived to find two men waiting for him. He was then robbed at knifepoint.

He later obtained his gun illegally through "peers from the drug subculture," in what the court heard was an "unfortunate decision to protect himself" against another robbery.

Factors in sentencing

Holmes noted several aggravating factors in the case, including that the victims had their backs turned when Deo shot at them, and that he drove away from the scene – while still under the influence of alcohol and cocaine – without checking to see if either woman was injured.

He also threw away his gun in what can "only be viewed as an attempt to conceal evidence," Holmes added.

"By doing so, he put the public at even greater risk, because the gun could have fallen into the wrong hands," she added. "It is in fact not known whether it did."

All told, the associate chief justice described Deo's behaviour as being "at the high end of recklessness."

However, Holmes also credited Deo for pleading guilty, abiding by his bail conditions, seeking treatment for his substance abuse issues, and expressing genuine remorse.

"Mr. Deo has developed clear insight into how he terrorized and harmed M.C. and B.K.," Holmes wrote. "I also accept that Mr. Deo is truly committed to the steps he has taken to remain sober, including by attending counselling."

In a pre-sentence report, a doctor assessed the shooter as being at a low risk of re-offending, provided that he remain sober.

On top of his four-year sentence, Deo was ordered to pay B.K. $7,732 in restitution to cover the bill for cleaning blood stains from the car she used to flee after the shooting.

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