Abbotsford Police seized items including cocaine, fentanyl and cash during a bust in February 2018. Sukhjit Malhi was charged in connection with the seizure. (Abbotsford Police Department)

Abbotsford Police seized items including cocaine, fentanyl and cash during a bust in February 2018. Sukhjit Malhi was charged in connection with the seizure. (Abbotsford Police Department)

Abbotsford man cleared of drug and weapons charges for second time

Navpreet Dhaliwal acquitted of four charges less than a year after previous offences dropped

An Abbotsford man who was cleared of eight drug and weapons charges last summer has been found not guilty of another four similar charges.

Navpreet Dhaliwal, 21, was acquitted of the most recent charges – four counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking – on May 14 in Abbotsford provincial court on what was scheduled to be the first day of his trial.

A fifth charge – possession of an unauthorized firearm – was stayed, meaning prosecutors have a year to bring it back before the courts if, for example, new evidence emerges that would make their case stronger.

The News was not in the courtroom for the ruling, and the judge’s reasons have not been posted online.

Dhaliwal was charged with the five offences in May 2018 while he was out of prison on bail after having been arrested and charged in September 2017.

The 2017 arrests involved Dhaliwal, Sukhjit Malhi and Ishaan Mutneja – all 19 years old at the time – facing a total of 14 charges, including for trafficking fentanyl and possession of a firearm. (Four more charges were later added.)

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At the time, police said the three were linked to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict.

Malhi was the first one to be charged with additional offences while out on bail following his September 2017 arrest.

He faced five more charges in February 2018, when he was found in possession of fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking.

In July 2018, all eight charges were dropped against Dhaliwal from his 2017 arrest. Two months later, Malhi was acquitted of the same eight drug and weapons charges from that year.

But Malhi was back in court last October to answer to his five February 2018 charges. He was sentenced to just under a year in prison and two years’ probation on a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking, and the four other charges were stayed.

Meanwhile, Mutneja’s trial on his 2017 charges – initially three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, but now two – is currently before the courts, with the next date scheduled for June 18 in Chilliwack.

Mutneja is also currently on trial in New Westminster on seven charges from 2016 in Abbotsford: five counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and one count of unauthorized possession of a prohibited weapon. That trial began last week.