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)

2 men appeal convictions in Surrey Six slayings

They were convicted of murdering six people in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

The Surrey Six murder case, 13 years after the killings, is once again before the courts.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal on Wednesday began hearing conviction appeals in Regina v. Haevischer and Regina versus Johnston during what’s expected to be a three-day webcast.

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 must pore over.

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 on that same floor and had she been home at the time, she likely would have shared his fate.

She was in court Wednesday.

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 are hearing the appeals.

The defence appeals 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 alleges abuse of process and failure on the part of the Crown to disclose evidence. Both also are advancing separate grounds for appeal.

The Crown, in one of its respondent factums, argues 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 continues. “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

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball coaches (l-r) Bryan Fraser and Cisco Farrero continue to help their players develop their skills, despite the cancellation of competitive play for the 2020 academic year. (Submitted file)
Winter 2021 Avalanche volleyball season cancelled

Pacwest has curtailed competitive play for the winter 2021 semester

RDEK reminds public to register for their emergency notification system. File photo.
RDEK reminds residents to register for East Kootenay Evacuation Notification System

Provincial Alert system cannot be used for local emergencies

RCR’s snow making is one of the bulk water users in Kimberley. Matt Mosteller file
Kimberley bulk water rates to rise 20 per cent if bylaw adopted

Bylaw given first three readings this week

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

Most Read