Fake “Ontario Construction Association” survey used to obtain DNA samples in Ottawa murder investigation

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ottawa courthouse
ottawa courthouse

Ottawa police devised a non-existent “Ontario Construction Association” survey to obtain DNA samples during a murder investigation, according to testimony at the trial of Gurpreet Ronald, 37 and Bhupinderpal Gill, 40, CBC reports.

They are on trial for the first-degree murder in the death of Gill’s wife, Jagtar Gill. The 43-year-old mother of three was found in January 2014, bludgeoned and stabbed multiple times in her Barrhaven home.

In court, Det. Krista Hill of the Ottawa Police Service’s major crimes unit testified about how she conducted an undercover operation designed by her colleague Det. John Monette, the homicide’s lead investigator, CBC reported.

The goal of the operation, Hill said, was to covertly obtain a DNA sample from Ronald.

Hill told Ontario Superior Court Justice Julianne Parfett and the 12-person jury that she posed as a representative from the Ontario Construction Association, and said the association was conducting a door-to-door survey.

(There is no “Ontario Construction Association”. Regional and trade-specific construction industry associations are members of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA). The Ottawa Construction Association withdrew its membership in COCA a few years ago.)

CBC says that Hill testified that on Feb. 28, 2014, she visited Ronald’s home — just around the corner from the Gill residence — and got Ronald to fill out the survey. Hill said she told Ronald she would automatically enter her name in a draw for six months of free mortgage payments.

“Ronald filled it out, and I asked her to put her address on the outside,” said Hill. “I then asked her to seal the envelope by licking the adhesive.”

Hill testified that the saliva sample from the envelope allowed forensic tests to match Ronald’s DNA to the blood found in the Gill home.

Earlier in the trial, the jury had heard that blood found on knives and the fingertip of a latex glove found in the Gill home matched Ronald’s DNA. Forensic tests also matched blood found in a number of locations in the home, including the Gills’ upstairs hallway and the master bedroom, to Ronald.

During cross examination, Bhupinderpal Gill’s lawyer James Harbic asked Hill if she’d offered Ronald an early-bird door prize for filling out the survey, the CBC report said.

“Yes,” Hill replied.

Court heard the prize was a weekend for two at the Château Laurier in Ottawa. Hill testified the purpose of that ruse was to lure Ronald into inviting Bhupinderpal Gill to the hotel.

Hill agreed with Harbic that police wanted proof that the two were having an affair — and that if the pair spent the weekend at the hotel, police would get a warrant to record their conversations.

However, Ronald turned down the door prize one month later, Hill testified, according to the CBC report.

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