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

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

Many members of the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club (pictured) have teamed up with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society to host a free ski in celebration of World Water Day. (Patrick Davies photo - Black Press Media)
Conservation society, cross country ski club, celebrate World Water Day with free ski March 6

The free ski will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 6 at Bull Mountain

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

The OT Timber Frames Ltd. crew of Wacey MacDonald (from left), Sean Empey, Josh Douglas, Kurt Leuenberger, Ruedi Baumann, Simon Gansner, Annie Murray (in front) and Josie the dog stand in front of a newly constructed timber frame outdoor classroom for the 150 Mile House Elementary School. (Photo submitted)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

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

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read