Donned in black attire and balaclavas, three unseasoned political assassins lurked in the shadows outside a South Auckland temple late into the night, just days before Christmas 2020. In the back of their nondescript SUV, a duffle bag brimmed with an assortment of menacing weaponry. However, their amateur actions that would soon unfurl resembled a script more fitting for a dark comedy than a real-life murder plot.
This tableau was described today by the repentant businessman, Jaspal Singh, now pivoted from aspiring hitman to prison inmate. He spent the day testifying against his former friends in the sombre setting of the High Court at Auckland. He detailed the failed plot to murder Harnek Singh, the internationally acclaimed radio talk show host based in Auckland.
During his testimony, Singh painted a chaotic picture of the ill-fated plot. “It all happened so fast,” he confessed to the jurors.
A total of seven men face charges of attempted murder, accused of having planned or directly participated in the attack on the radio host. The victim miraculously survived the onslaught of multiple stab wounds that occurred after his red ute was cornered in his own driveway. An additional man has been charged as an accomplice for aiding after the attack.
Of the men facing charges, three have pled guilty. Jaspal Singh led the way with his confession over a year ago, later joined by his co-defendants Hardeep Singh Sandhu and Sarvjeet Sidhu on the eve of the trial. The remaining defendants, all pleading not guilty, are alleged henchmen who bolstered the attackers at every turn.
The trial continued today with the second day of Singh’s testimony. He recounted how he was initially enlisted for the strike a week prior by the man who was the most adamant about imposing a lethal punishment for the radio host’s liberal views. He detailed how the original plan, which was supposed to involve a stolen getaway vehicle and a shooter, took a drastic turn to what it eventually became, with him in a more active and terrifying role.
On that fateful evening, a white van was spotted also tailing the radio host. This led to a high-stakes attempt to coordinate efforts with the van’s occupants, which culminated in the collision with the radio host’s vehicle.
The witness recalled how he and his accomplices worked doggedly to shatter into the locked vehicle before launching their attack on the defiantly honking radio host. The ambush, according to the witness, was a blur of a flurry of attempts to harm their confined target.
In the aftermath of the frenzied attack, the amateur assassins abandoned the scene, leaving the witness’s knife in the blood-soaked car. Injuries sustained during the assault created a hurried panic, leading a desperate trio to seek refuge in a foreign address. Their arrival was that of shock to the alleged orchestrator of the plot who quickly ushered them off to another address.
Once they arrived at the new location, the men washed their wounds and changed into clean clothes provided to them by Sukhpreet Singh – the man accused of being an accessory after the incident. After retelling their tale and showing the dashcam footage, the man with name suppression reassured them, snapping the SIM card in the process.
Defence lawyer Peter Kaye suggested during cross-examination that Jaspal Singh was lying in attempts to broker the best deal with the Crown – implicating his friends in the process. Kaye painted Singh as an “enforcer” with a history riddled with crimes.
Jaspal Singh conceded to his violent past, but was adamant about his innocence in the night’s attack. His potential sentence, however, has been halved due to his plea and cooperation with the police.
Singh denied Kaye’s suggestion that his client was not present during the attack, replying, “That’s false. I’ve got nothing to hide and nothing to lie about.”. The cross-examination will continue when the trial resumes.