The hearing to quash the trial in the case of a Burlington Township chief facing allegations of human trafficking and assault, defense and crown attorneys presented their arguments in court.
Mohan “Jarry” Ahlowalia, the man at the center of the allegations, was accused by a woman who lived in the multifamily mansion in physical and sexual abuse her while living in the town. He pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The defense filed a motion to quash the trial following the testimony of the wife’s former husband in court, which also saw the disclosure of new evidence provided by the witness.
In his submission, defense attorney Jeffey Manishen listed three items of late disclosure that he said could have impacted the fairness of the trial process, the most “important” being an audio recording of the accused explaining why he did not compensate the woman for her time working in family catering.
“This is a recording that the Crown sees fit to rely on and presented as part of their case with specific language, tone and content that involves my client. And if I had had it, it could very well have affected the way I would have cross-examined (the woman), ”he said.
The other two items were an audio recording of Ahlowalia saying he had “dressed” the woman and security camera footage of the accused dropping a bowl on the floor near her in the restaurant kitchen.
Manishen argued there was sufficient time to research potential additional disclosure material well before October 2021, while pointing to the lack of follow-up from a Halton Police Detective for the witness to produce and disclose evidence .
Meanwhile, Assistant Crown Attorney Monica MacKenzie has described what they are dealing with as a production issue rather than disclosure.
“There has been time and it is time for the defense to process and consider the additional disclosure,” she noted.
MacKenzie said in his brief that neither the witness nor the police were aware of the existence of the documents before the trial.
“And I think there is no question that if he had known he had these documents he would have produced them and obviously the Crown would have disclosed them,” she said, noting that the witness has no duty to assist Crown or defense.
The prosecution suggested recalling the woman as a witness as a remedy instead of the drastic measure of declaring the trial quashed.
“Recalling the witness would ensure that Mr. Ahlowalia gets a fair trial and that he has the opportunity to confront her on any of the items that have (recently) been disclosed,” she said.
Ontario Court Judge Jaki Freeman is expected to render a ruling on the application to quash the trial on Thursday, November 18.