A man serving time for two murders, including one in Abbotsford, has had his application denied to seek early parole.
The judge considering the application in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver said that although Ravinder (Robbie) Soomel, 39, has made some marked improvement during the last six years, it’s not enough for a jury to look past the fact that he was involved in two killings.
“I view Mr. Soomel’s prospect at this stage as being more of a long shot than what could be termed a reasonable prospect,” said Justice George Macintosh.
Soomel was arrested in October 2000 for the first-degree murder of Gurpreet Sohi, 20, who had been gunned down in his Delta basement about three weeks earlier.
Soomel was convicted in May 2003 and received an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years.
When his time in pre-trial custody was taken into account, his full parole eligibility date was determined to be Oct. 13, 2025.
However, Soomel qualified to apply for earlier parole eligibility under the faint-hope clause. That provision – for those sentenced to life imprisonment with a parole-eligibility period of more than 15 years – is no longer in effect for offences committed after Dec. 2, 2011.
In considering the recent application, Macintosh said among the criteria he had to weigh were Soomel’s character, his conduct while serving his sentence, and the nature of the offence for which he was convicted.
In a written submission, Crown counsel Daniel Mulligan described Sohi’s killing as an “exceptionally cold-blooded, calculated and vicious execution.”
He said Soomel planned the murder in revenge for the suspected theft of marijuana and for the shooting of his brother, Raj Soomel.
Mulligan said that Soomel hired four young men and assigned them roles – such as lookouts – and then participated in loading bullets into the gun clip and providing two-way radios to use in the murder.
Gurwinder (Gogi) Mann – whose in-prison death is the subject of a coroners inquest early next year – killed Sohi by firing 16 rounds into him with a submachine gun, Mulligan said.
“Afterwards, Mr. Soomel drank beer with his accomplices,” he added.
Several years later, in 2010, Soomel pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in a killing that took place three years before Sogi’s death.
In that case, Jason Herle, 20, was gunned down as he was leaving his parents’ King Road home in Abbotsford with his girlfriend in November 1997.
Court documents indicate that Soomel was hired by another man, Doc Bahia, to assist in Herle’s murder.
The two hid in bushes outside the King Road residence, and then ambushed Herle when he appeared. Soomel pointed one handgun, while Bahia used another and shot Herle nine times in the head and torso.
It was later learned that the contract to kill Herle was in retaliation for a prior shooting that Herle, in fact, had nothing to do with.
Macintosh said he took into consideration the circumstances of the two killings, as well as Soomel’s behaviour while in custody, in considering his early-parole application.
“The summary of Mr. Soomel’s time in prison is that he frequently broke the rules up to six years ago, in 2012, and that increasingly since then, he has made commendable steps toward rehabilitation,” Macintosh said.
He said Soomel has incurred 45 institutional charges – 34 minor and 11 serious – and was found guilty of 27 of them (18 minor and nine serious).
These infractions include disobeying rules; smoking; gambling; being disrespectful or abusive to staff; possessing drugs such as heroin and marijuana; and having homemade knives in his possession.
However, defence lawyer Brent Anderson said in his written submission that Soomel has had a marked improvement in his behaviour since 2010, completing numerous programs and courses, obtaining his high school diploma, receiving some secondary school credits, and completing numerous vocational programs.
Macintosh determined that these accomplishments weren’t enough to have Soomel’s application proceed to a hearing before a jury, saying there was not a “substantial likelihood” that 12 men and women would unanimously approve a reduction in his parole eligibility.