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Surrey killer hunted for stranger to rob to get money for meth

His victim, an innocent stranger, was shot in the head while being pistol-whipped for six minutes
Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

The Surrey man sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter and robbery with a firearm in the Newton shooting death of Pritpal Singh, 21, testified at trial that the gun went off accidentally while he was pistol-whipping his victim, an innocent stranger.

Robert Arthur Tomljenovic, 26, was originally charged with second-degree murder but was found guilty of the lesser charges for the April 7, 2020 killing in Newton. He was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

Justice Laura Gerow noted in her reasons for judgment, posted May 6, that Tomljenovic testified he’d been pistol whipping Singh with his gun “in order to subdue him so he could rob him when it discharged accidentally.

“The gun went off on two occasions with the second shot killing Mr. Singh as a result of a gunshot wound to the head. The pistol whipping went on for approximately six minutes before Mr. Singh was killed.”

READ ALSO: Prital Singh’s killer sentenced to 12 years for Surrey shooting

Besides the gunshot wound, a pathologist found 27 other wounds to his face and head. His nose was broken and he sustained lacerations, abrasions and contusions.

Gerow noted the killer ventured out that night with “the goal of finding someone to rob so he could purchase methamphetamine. At the time of the offences, Mr. Tomljenovic was addicted to methamphetamine. He had smoked his last half gram before leaving his residence.”

“Mr. Tomljenovic took a loaded gun into public for the purpose of robbing an innocent stranger in a residential neighbourhood,” she said. “Mr. Tomljenovic’s attack on Mr. Singh was unprovoked.”

The court heard at the time of the killing Singh was 143 pounds and stood five feet eight inches tall, where Tomljenovic is six feet three inches tall and weighed 270 pounds when he was arrested.

Tomljenovic already had a criminal record and at the time was on was on bail, on condition he not possess a weapon or use drugs.

On March 26, 2021 he pleaded guilty to assault, assault causing bodily harm, assaulting a police officer and disarming a police officer, all for which he was sentenced to nine months in jail.

“During those offences Mr. Tomljenovic physically attacked two innocent strangers, and then when the police attended assaulted the police and disarmed one of them,” Gerow noted.

Singh’s family lives in India. They were unable to attend the trial in person but attended the sentencing by video. Victim Impact Statements from them indicated Singh “brought joy and happiness into the lives of his family and friends,” the judge noted.

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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