RCMP officers search the property surrounding an apartment building where six people died in a mulitple homicide in Surrey, B.C. Two men convicted of first-degree murder in a mass execution that left six people dead are suing the British Columbia government for their alleged mistreatment in prison.Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston were also convicted of conspiracy in the October 2007 deaths in a Surrey highrise. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Charges stayed in ‘Surrey Six’ slayings, judge seals reasons for decision

VANCOUVER — A judge has stayed charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder against a man accused in the execution-style slayings of six men in Surrey, B.C.

Jamie Bacon was accused of the first-degree murder of 21-year-old Corey Lal, one of six people murdered in a highrise apartment in October 2007.

The B.C. Supreme Court released its ruling Friday in an application for a stay filed by Bacon’s lawyers in the so-called Surrey Six case.

Much of the evidence and reasons for the decision were sealed by the court.

“In order to protect the Crown’s claims of privilege, which I have upheld, the evidence adduced, the materials filed and my reasons for entering the stay of proceedings must remain sealed,” wrote Justice Kathleen Ker.

“I am bound by the law as I have described it and, accordingly, am not at liberty to provide any further information about my rulings or the evidence and materials underlying them.”

Bacon remains in custody on a separate charge of counselling the murder of an individual, the Crown says. His trial is scheduled to begin on April 3, 2018. The Crown says he has not applied for bail on that charge, but it would oppose his release.

The edited ruling says Bacon’s lawyers had come into possession of privileged information that they were not allowed to use in his defence, which would impact his right to a fair trial in the Surrey Six case.

“In part, this arose from the manner in which the police handled aspects of privileged and confidential information,” the ruling says.

The judge also determined that someone who can only be referred to as Person X because of a publication ban cannot be called by the Crown as a witness in order to protect Bacon’s rights.

Person X pleaded guilty in April 2009 to three counts of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the case.

In 2014, Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnson were convicted of six counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.

Previous trials have heard Bacon was a leader of the Red Scorpion gang.

The Crown says it is considering an appeal.

A stay is a direction of the court that charges not be acted on at least until some other step is taken.

The charges that were stayed stem from a massacre in a 15th-storey apartment in nearby Surrey.

The men who were killed were identified as Lal’s brother Michael, 26; Ryan Bartolomeo, 19; Eddie Narong, 22; Ed Schellenberg, 55; and Chris Mohan, 22. Police have said Schellenberg, a fireplace repairman, and Mohan, who lived across the hall from the murder scene, were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Christopher Mohan, 22, who lived in the apartment next door, and Ed Schellenberg, 55, a fireplace repairman and previous trials have heard they were caught up in the gang violence.

Bacon’s trial had been delayed several times since his arrest in 2009, and court proceedings have taken place behind closed doors in Vancouver. Bacon was 23 when he was charged in 2009.

Haevischer and Johnston, both Red Scorpion members, were each given life sentences in December 2014.

The Crown’s theory at their trial was that the gang’s bosses ordered the men to murder Lal, a rival drug trafficker, and the other five were killed to eliminate witnesses.

Another man pleaded guilty to break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence for his part in the slayings. He was originally charged with manslaughter in addition to the break-and-enter charge.

Attorney General David Eby said he was “shocked” when he learned of the stay.

“I write these words today with tremendous disappointment,” he said in a statement.

“The families of the victims and all who have been impacted by this terrible crime deserve peace, and they will not find it today.”

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