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by Beth Wyatt, Reporter
Thursday, March 13, 2014
A 60-year-old Sikh man cleared of attacking a drinker with a ceremonial dagger said he felt “overwhelmed” by the verdict.
Figures in the Sikh community have praised the verdict, arguing that the case against Bagicha Singh should have never been brought.
Cllr Balvinder Saund (Independent, Seven Kings) attended some of the trial as a representative of the Sikh Council UK.
She said: “I’m really pleased with the verdict. If they had found him guilty it would have been a travesty of justice.
“He was just a man of 60 minding his own business, talking on the phone as he walked by himself, so the idea of him attacking strapping big lads was just unbelievable. It was almost as if the kirpan was on trial.”
Magistrate Harmander Singh, 54, an adviser with think-tank Sikhs in England, said: “We are very pleased with the outcome, justice has prevailed.
“We think Bagicha Singh was almost the victim in this and we are very disappointed with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) taking the case to court; we think they lost the plot with this. It was a complete and utter waste of public money and time and I hope lessons are learnt.”
The CPS has not provided a comment to the Recorder.
Bagicha Singh beamed and had tears in his eyes at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Tuesday after the jury found him not guilty of assaulting Pritpal Singh, 30, with his kirpan.
Mr Singh, of Richmond Road, Ilford, who insisted he acted in self-defence, was cleared of one count of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and another of committing unlawful and malicious wounding.
The kirpan can be worn legally for religious reasons and Seven Kings Cllr Balvinder Saund said “it was as if the kirpan was on trial”.
Speaking to the Recorder through his solicitor and translator Vinod Sharma, Mr Singh said: “I felt overwhelmed and relieved.
“It is going to take some time for me to come to terms with the whole thing. I feel this should never have been brought against me when I was a victim.”
The incident between the two men happened near Sunnyside Road, Ilford, in November 2012.
The court heard how Pritpal Singh, 30, who had been drinking with friends in South Park, allegedly attacked Bagicha when he came across him walking alone.
The prosecution argued that the 60-year-old began stabbing him repeatedly and a friend of Pritpal Singh’s said Bagicha slashed the kirpan “from left to right”.
But the older man said he unsheathed it in an attempt to get Pritpal Singh, who was later treated for stab wounds, off him.
He said in court: “He was hitting me on my face and everywhere and trying to snatch my kirpan.
“I thought he was going to kill me; if he had got hold of the kirpan he would have killed me.”
Bagicha, whose wife Jasvir Kaur, son Sukhjit, 26, and daughter Sharandeep, 28, live in India, told the Recorder: “I feel scared walking in the street now in case I am attacked. But I am grateful to those who supported me and I thank God that in the end justice prevailed.”
A 14-year-old girl from Chigwell, who went missing almost two weeks ago, has been found, Essex Police said.