Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Woman jailed for lying to Surrey passport officer, attempting passport fraud

Sapna Kapoor, 44, sentenced to six months in jail less one day and three years probation

A woman has been sentenced to six months less a day in jail to be followed by three years of probation for making a false statement to a Surrey passport officer and attempting to set up a falsified passport for her infant child.

A jury convicted Sapna Kapoor, a 44-year-old Indian national with a master’s degree in business administration, of attempting to utter a forged passport application and making the false statement in late September and early October 2017. She was convicted after being tried before a judge and jury in 22-day trial at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

The court heard Kapoor had been married for 16 months before separating from her husband and in that time they had a son.

Justice Murray Blok described her marriage as “difficult and fractious.” On Sept. 27, 2017 Kapoor went to a passport office in Surrey and presented a passport application for the child, containing a signature purported to be that of the father. The judge noted that this had been flagged by an alert system the father initiated with Passport Canada, “and so the application was not processed in the end, which explains the charge and ultimate conviction for attempting to utter a forged document.”

A few days later, a passport officer phoned her to do a parental verification check and she told the officer the father wasn’t available because he had left the country.

“Ms. Kapoor made the statement for the purpose of procuring a passport for their son; the statement was false; and Ms. Kapoor knew it was false,” Blok noted in his reasons for judgment.

The father, Sonam Makkar, provided the court with a victim impact statement.

“To summarize it very briefly,” Blok explained, “he said he has lived in constant fear that Ms. Kapoor might try to abduct their child back to India, a country which is not a signatory to the Hague Convention.”

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The Crown sought a jail term of six to 12 months in jail followed by probation conditions “crafted to minimize the risk of unauthorized removal of the child from Canada,” the judge noted, adding that the maximum sentence for attempting to set up a fraudulent passport is five years in prison and two years for knowingly lying to a passport officer. Blok noted “these maximums do demonstrate the seriousness with which Parliament views these types of offences.”

The defence argued for a conditional sentence order (house arrest). The judge, however, Kapoor’s “element of planning and implementation” to be an aggravating factor.

“These offences were not the result of momentary lapses of judgment,” he determined. “It is also an aggravating factor that Ms. Kapoor submitted this forged passport application for an infant against the express wishes of the father, the other parent, for the purposes of removing the child from this jurisdiction.”

Blok found Kapoor to be “unremorseful.” Given the importance of protecting the integrity of Canada’s passport system, he said, “general deterrence is a very important factor here.”

“She claims to have acted out of motherly love and that there was no risk of child abduction, but she has failed to recognize that her conduct reasonably gave rise to those very fears.”

Blok concluded that “only actual jail time would meet the sentencing objective of specific deterrence.”

“I have given careful thought to the length of sentence and I have given particular consideration to possible collateral immigration effects,” he said in his reasons for judgment. “”Ms. Kapoor may already have done irreparable damage to her future immigration status, but I am satisfied I can impose a sentence that meets all sentencing objectives here without creating potential immigration consequences.”

Among her probation conditions, Kapoor is not to take her son within a two-kilometre radius of Vancouver International Airport or within 100 metres of the Canada-U.S. border when he is in her custody or care.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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