B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Judgment reserved in Surrey Six slayings appeals

Six men were killed in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

The Surrey Six murder case, 13 years after the killings, is now in the hands of three appeal court judges.

Their judgment has been reserved and is expected to be released “in due course.”

The British Columbia Court of Appeal began a six-day hearing Oct. 15 on conviction appeals in Regina v. Haevischer and Regina versus Johnston which wrapped up on Oct. 23.

The appellants, Matthew James Johnston and Cody Rae Haevisher, were convicted of murdering six people in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007. The Crown’s theory was that the killings were payback for an unpaid debt between rival gangs. This is contained in 375 pages of factums, or written arguments, which the judges are poring over.

Dan McLaughlin, spokesman for the British Columbia Prosecution Service, noted the appeal court does not typically give a date as to when it will release its decisions.

“They don’t ever do that,” he said Tuesday. “They give us a head’s up a week before it’s going to come out.”

Christopher Mohan, 22, was one of six men shot dead in gang violence in a penthouse suite on the 15th floor of the tower. He shared a suite with his mom Eileen Mohan on that same floor and had she been home at the time, she likely would have shared his fate. She was the only person allowed in the courtroom, other than of course the judges, lawyers and staff, as she has followed proceedings from day one.

“They will come back with their findings some time in spring of 2021,” Mohan told the Now-Leader. “Between March and May.

“It was quite difficult to sit and listen to everything,” she said.

Christopher Mohan and Abbotsford gasfitter Ed Shellenberg, 55, were innocent victims who accidentally stumbled upon a drug hit in progress. Edward Sousakhone Narong, 22, Ryan Bartolomeo, 19, and brothers Michael Justin Lal, 26, and Corey Jason Michael Lal, 21, were also slain.

READ ALSO UPDATED: Couple faces 69 charges related to CBSA Surrey immigration fraud investigation

Justices David Franklin Tysoe, Anne MacKenzie and Peter Willcock heard the appeals.

The defence appealed the convictions on grounds the accused were excluded from a hearing that was part of the trial, creating “unfairness,” and that a new trial should be ordered because the trial judge “erred in her assessment of the reliability” of evidence from two “Vetrovec” witnesses. Such a witness is considered to be unsavoury, or disreputable. The name comes from a Supreme Court of Canada case in 1982, Vetrovec v. The Queen, concerning a conspiracy to traffic in heroin.

The Crown’s response, contained in a factum, is that the judge “did not err in excluding the appellants” because they didn’t have a right to be present “when information which could tend to identify an informer was revealed,” and that the trial judge did not err in assessing the Vetrovec witnesses evidence.

The appellant’s joint factum also alleged abuse of process and failure on the part of the Crown to disclose evidence. Both men advanced separate grounds for appeal.

The Crown, in one of its respondent factums, argued that the appellants have “failed to demonstrate any basis upon which this Court may interfere with the judge’s exercise of discretion.

“No useful purpose would be served by an evidentiary hearing in the trial court,” the Crown’s document reads. “Such a hearing will never alter the underlying facts. The appellants were found guilty of horrific crimes. Intending to kill one drug rival to make an example of him and to advance their drug trafficking gang’s turf, they murdered six men, two of whom were unconnected with the drug trade, execution-style as those men lay defenceless on the floor.

“The appellants and their Red Scorpion(“RS”) gang associate chose this wanton and pitiless violence over the option of simply abandoning their callous, dangerous and risky plan,” a portion of the Crown’s factum reads. “The resulting carnage was unspeakable. A stay of proceedings will always be a disproportionate response. This ground of appeal ought to be dismissed.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

CourtSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vandals damaged a picnic table at Spectacle Lake Park with a chainsaw earlier this month. (Linda Mills photo)
Editorial: Vandals make victims of us all

It is infuriating when people target public property for vandalism.

Vees' Jack Barnes picked up his second goal of the season in the team's 5-0 win over Merritt on Saturday. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Cowichan Capitals in deadline dilemma with 20-year-old players

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

The latest homeless count in the Valley found 129 in a 24-hour period. (File photo)
Latest homeless count reveals 129 in the Cowichan Valley

But local officials believe number is higher

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

The Port of Nanaimo has signed a 50-year-agreement with DP World around short-sea shipping operations at Duke Point Terminal. (News Bulletin file photo)
Lease ‘important first step’ in $105-million Nanaimo port expansion project

Port of Nanaimo and DP World sign 50-year shipping operations agreement for Duke Point

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A BC Ferries worker out of Swartz Bay has tested positive for COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Swartz Bay ferry worker confirmed to have COVID-19

Employees in direct contact with worker now isolating

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Most Read