UPDATE: 10:30 a.m.
The three men who plotted and carried out the gangland slaying that “shocked the community” in 2011 were sentenced Wednesday for crimes far lesser than what they were initially charged.
That, however, is not reflective of a troubled legal system, said the B.C. Supreme Court Justice who sentenced the three men.
“This case has been complicated,” said Justice Allan Betton, noting that Crown and defence were both conscientious when they raised issues that stalled the trial for months at a time.
Those delays, as well as some of the more challenging aspects of using evidence from “unsavoury witnesses,” he said, made the plea deal a reasonable option.
“The certainty achieved from the uncertainty of what yet lay ahead is a legitimate consideration,” said Betton, adding that there was a possibility that a delay application could have scuttled the whole case.
For committing second degree murder, Jason McBride was sentenced to life in prison, with eligibility to apply for parole at 18 years.
Juhjhar Khun-Khun and Michael Jones were sentenced to 18 years apiece for conspiring to murder Bacon and Larry Amero and James Riach. Both will be credited time and a half for each day they were already behind bars.
Inmates can apply for parole after serving a third of their sentence then they get statutory release at the two-thirds mark. Ruse has requested that Jones and Khun-Khun be forced to serve half of their remaining ten year sentences.
These sentences, said Betton, are significant.
“In my view, reasonable and informed persons aware of all of the relevant circumstances could not see the joint submission reflecting the breakdown of the proper functioning of the justice system,” said Betton.
“As I have referenced it has been a highly complex and difficult case with many challenges. And there are significant reasons for uncertainty of what the ultimate outcome would have been for these arrangements of pleas that have been entered.”
Police forces who were involved in gathering the evidence used by the prosecution service also said ending the case was a positive move forward.
“When these types of violent crimes occur in our towns and cities it can have a dramatic impact on the people who live, work and visit them,” said Supt. Brent Mundle, Officer in Charge of the Kelowna RCMP. “Today’s convictions and sentencing is a testament to the hard work of investigators from multiple police agencies to hold those responsible accountable, and to protect the communities we serve.”
That hard work, said a representative of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit today, cost $9 million in policing costs.
“The investigation into the murder of Jonathan Bacon and the attempted murders of Larry Amero, James Riach, Lyndsay Black, and Leah Hadden-Watts was extremely large and complex. Over the past six and a half years, hundreds of dedicated and committed officers and support staff from numerous agencies have been involved,” said Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett, the Chief Officer of the CFSEU-BC. “Today will hopefully bring some comfort to the community and all of those adversely impacted by the violence that took place on that summer day in 2011. It should also serve as a reminder to those involved in perpetrating gang violence that we will be relentless and resolute as we help bring those individuals who threaten our communities with gun violence to account.”
More to come.
“The peculiar and affections matter of this case it is appropriate to make order the crown seeks, it was a planned and calculated attack with magnificent risk to other people and the two people that were not targets are proof of that,” Justice Belton
— Kelowna Capital News (@KelownaCapNews) May 2, 2018
The accused sit motionless as they await sentencing
— Kelowna Capital News (@KelownaCapNews) May 2, 2018
The men who plotted and carried out the 2011 murder of B.C. gangster Jonathan Bacon will be sentenced for their crimes today, putting an end to a lengthy trial mired in red tape.
Jason McBride was one of two gunmen who masked his face and charged toward a Porsche Cayenne Aug. 14, 2011 while firing an AK47-style gun, said Crown counsel Dave Ruse, reading from the statement of fact.
Within the Porsche were members of the drug dealing gang, the “Wolf Pack,” which included Larry Amero, who was driving, Bacon was in the front passenger seat and James Riach was in a back seat. They were with companions, Leah Hadden-Watts and Lyndsey Black.
McBride, who was seen in video footage shown in court can be seen approaching the Cayenne in white sneakers, was with now-deceased Manny Hairan, who shot the car with a glock-style gun, while people walking dogs, children and elderly hotel guests ran for cover.
“It is difficult to imagine a more public place to attempt this murder than the entranceway of a large resort hotel in a tourist city in the middle of summer on a sunny Sunday,” said Ruse, describing the scene.
Forensic evidence presented in the trial showed that 45 bullet cartridges were found at the scene, 34 of which cut through the Porsche. Two went into a salon beside the shooting and another was found in the Kelowna Art Gallery where children and parents were taking part in Family Day.
Those bullets fatally sliced through Bacon, left Amero without the use of an arm and paralyzed Hadden-Watts. Riach escaped without injury and Black has healed from wounds to her legs.
Michael Jones was in the driver side of the getaway vehicle, said Ruse, and Jujhar Khun Khun conspired to weaponize the men after plotting out the movements of their targets, the “Wolf Pack.”
For committing second degree murder, Crown counsel along with defence recommended that McBride get the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years, with eligibility to apply for parole at 18 years. All three men were arrested Feb. 22, 2013 and served five years and two months, to date, that will be applied to their sentence.
Khun-Khun and Jones are facing sentences of 18 years apiece for conspiring to murder Bacon and company. Khun Kuhn will be credited for eight years and two months of time served and Jones will be credited with five.
Inmates can apply for parole after serving a third of their sentence then they get statutory release at the two thirds mark. Ruse has requested that Jones and Khun Khun be forced to serve half of their remaining ten year sentences.
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