Sheriffs escort Afshin Maleki Ighani into Penticton court. (Black Press File photo)

Sheriffs escort Afshin Maleki Ighani into Penticton court. (Black Press File photo)

Okanagan inmate who allegedly assaulted prisoners and officer gets case delayed – again

Afshin Ighani, who is representing himself, has case adjourned until Dec. 9 so he can get legal aid

A man facing a string of violent charges, including the alleged assault of two prisoners and a guard, has once again had his case delayed.

Afshin Ighani, who is representing himself, appeared in handcuffs in Penticton Supreme Court on Monday and had his case adjourned until Dec. 9 so he can secure legal aid.

Ighani was in court to face two charges for assault with a weapon and two charges for assault causing bodily harm for allegedly assaulting two prisoners at the Okanagan Correctional Centre in September 2017 while he was in custody for other violent crimes.

He was also in court on Monday (Nov. 25) for one count of assaulting a female peace officer on March 14, 2018.

READ MORE: Man accused of yet another violent incident at Okanagan jail

READ MORE: Okanagan inmate who allegedly assaulted prisoners and officer gets trial extension

Ighani allegedly committed those offences while he was awaiting trial for a reported crime spree that began on April 19, 2017, in Oliver and ended in Princeton.

During the crime spree, it’s alleged Ighani shot Thomas Szajko, leading to a major police presence on a quiet residential street in the town of Oliver, where Ighani was believed to have been staying in a camper trailer.

Police stormed his trailer in the early morning of April 20, 2017, however, he was not home at the time so police began scouring the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

While police were looking for him, he allegedly kidnapped Jodie Walker and Christopher William Gliege and forced them to drive him from Okanagan Falls to the Lower Mainland.

Police at the time said all three were people who were known to each other.

The Crown alleges he forced Gliege out of the vehicle by gunpoint on a road near Princeton and fired a gun over his head before driving away with Walker.

A tip from the public and a police helicopter helped the RCMP locate Ighani’s car at the Deblyn mobile home park where police fired several shots at the vehicle’s tires to stop it on April 22, 2017.

After stopping the vehicle, police claim Ighani tried to flee on foot, however, a RCMP canine unit tracked him down before he was arrested. Walker was unhurt in the incident.

READ MORE: RCMP hunt for alleged shooter

READ MORE: Shots fired as RCMP arrest wanted man

Ighani was subsequently charged with 10 criminal offences, however, a count of attempted murder was dropped by the Crown after Szajko died of unrelated causes on Dec. 1, 2017.

A five-day trial was originally set for June 2018, however, in May 2018, the court heard Ighani fired his defence lawyer, which did not leave enough time for his new lawyer to get acquainted with his client’s charges.

As a result, his trial date was rescheduled for December 2018, but on day three of his trial, Justice Nitya Iyer agreed with a request from his defence counsel for an adjournment after new information surfaced from Walker, one of the two people that were allegedly kidnapped.

As a result, his proceedings were adjourned until the new year, however, in October he asked for his trial to be rescheduled because he had not received the full disclosure package needed for his defence. He added he believed the package was missing a document with a statement from the RCMP officer flying the helicopter on the day of his arrest.

READ MORE: Charges for the attempted murder of an Oliver man dropped

READ MORE: Ighani trial on hold until 2019

Supreme Court Justice Nitya Iyer granted the adjournment but not without questioning Ighani for his reasons for the delay and criticizing his failure to be prepared during the trial, even once saying she was uncertain as to whether he was being completely honest with the court.

Ighani told the court he wasn’t trying to delay the proceedings, adding he was innocent of the charges and didn’t want to spend any more time in jail.

During his next appearance on Nov. 20, he said he was unable to submit whether he would cross-examine a witness because he was couldn’t operate court discs with recordings from the previous trial dates on the computer given to him in prison.

To move forward with the trial, Judge Nitya Iyer had the recording played in court and ruled the Crown’s case finished.

In response, Ighani requested the trial be adjourned because he said he still has not heard the content of the recordings for him to determine whether he could call evidence in his case.

Judge Iyer adjourned the trial until the following morning to give Ighani another chance to listen to the recordings.

His next scheduled appearance on those matters is on Jan. 10.

READ MORE: Okanagan immate charged in Princeton kidnapping gets trial extension

READ MORE: Representing himself, Ighani delays trial

Paul Clarke
Assistant bureau chief, B.C. Interior South Division
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