22nd Jun, 2018

Sikh temple accused to stand trial together

Editorial Correspondent 4th Sep, 2017 Updated: 4th Sep, 2017

TWO men accused of separate offences during a protest against mixed-faith weddings at Leamington’s Sikh temple are to stand trial together.

Gursharan Singh and Kulvinder Bir Singh appeared at Warwick Crown Court together for the first time after previously being dealt with separately for the offences they each face.

Gursharan Singh has pleaded not guilty to religiously aggravated common assault on Bhopinder Singh Aujla during the incident at the Gurdwara Sahib temple on September 11 last year.

The prosecution has alleged that ‘at the time of the assault or immediately before doing so, he demonstrated hostility based on membership or presumed membership of a religious group.’

Gursharan Singh, 34, of Wentworth Drive, Coventry, also denied an alternative charge of assaulting Mr Aujla, a religious officer at the Gurdwara, by beating.

Kulvinder Bir Singh, 37, of Tilehurst Drive, Coventry, has pleaded not guilty to religiously aggravated criminal damage and an alternative charge of causing criminal damage.

The allegations against both men follow an incident at the Tachbrook Park Drive temple over opposition to a mixed-faith wedding being held there.

Prosecutor Sophie Murray explained the prosecution case against Kulvinder Bir Singh was that, intending to interfere with a mixed-faith wedding due to take place that day, he took down a laminated paper sign relating to it.

The sign was later found in a bin, having been torn up, allegedly by him.

Kulvinder Bir Singh had entered his not guilty pleas following submissions on whether the alleged offence could be religiously aggravated, when he was himself a Sikh.

A similar argument had been put forward in Gursharan Singh’s case, leading to now-retired Judge Richard Griffith-Jones remarking: “What everyone would want is a peaceful resolution, to respect people’s views. I would be very sorry if the court process makes things worse.”

At a further hearing, with both men in court, Judge Carmel Wall approved an application for the indictments against the two men to be joined, and for them to be tried together.

And following an adjournment, Judge Wall said the trial of the two men will now take place at Birmingham Crown Court, beginning on January 31 next year.

Adjourning the case until then, she granted both men bail with a condition they do not attend the Gurdwara Sahib.

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