Judge rejects application to stay conviction of Surrey Six killers

VANCOUVER — The judge hearing the Surrey Six trial has rejected an application by two men convicted in the gangland slayings to have their charges stayed, paving the way for the killers to be sentenced.

Following the convictions, lawyers for Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston argued that their client’s rights were violated by alleged police misconduct and harsh and inhumane incarceration for a period of 14 months.

They filed an abuse of process application asking that the court conduct a full hearing into the allegations before making a ruling on whether to stay the charges.

The Crown, which denied the allegations of state misconduct, responded by filing a motion to dismiss the application before it could reach the hearing stage.

In a ruling released Wednesday, the judge noted that for the purposes of the application, she was required by law to accept as true the facts as alleged by Haevischer and Johnston.

Court heard that four RCMP officers involved in the investigation were allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct with potential female Crown witnesses.

There were other allegations that the officers mishandled sensitive and protected witnesses, agents or informers, lost evidence and failed to preserve the integrity and secrecy of so-called “holdback” evidence.

The defence also outlined what they argued was a deliberate strategy by police to isolate the accused during pre-trial custody.

The judge said that she accepted for the purpose of the application that rights of the two men were violated by their conditions of confinement and that it was offensive to “notions of fair play and decency” and an abuse of process.

She also found that the conduct of the officers was “unquestionably egregious” and that they had engaged in exploitative sexual relationships with protected female witnesses.

But the judge also noted the Crown argument that the two men had been found guilty of “horrific” crimes, the circumstances of which could not be more shocking.

The October 2007 murders were execution-style killings, carried out with deliberation while the six victims were defenceless and were motivated by gang members fighting for turf in the drug trade, said the judge in her 42-page ruling.

In light of the number of victims and the motivations underlying the murders, society’s interests in seeing justice done was profound, said Wedge.

“In the circumstances of this case, the seriousness of the charges and society’s interests in seeing justice done are the factors that weigh most heavily in the balance,” said the judge.

“I am satisfied that the price of staying these convictions could not be worth the gain to our justice system.”

Outside court, Eileen Mohan, whose son Christopher was an innocent victim in the slayings, told reporters that she always knew the alleged misconduct of the officers was not related to the death of her son.

She said she was a little bit surprised that the two killers were mistreated during incarceration but was happy to know that their solitary confinement eventually came to an end.

Mohan was pleased that there will be no further hearings into the issue.

“That kind of puts a lot of pressure off my shoulders and helps me to kind of recollect my thoughts and prepare myself for sentencing.”

She said she would be giving a victim impact statement at the sentencing.

“I sat in court for almost 120 days now and these convicted criminals can sit down and listen to me for half an hour. It’s my time to represent my son, who is not with me now.”

Haevischer and Johnston were each convicted of six counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. No date has yet been set for sentencing but it’s expected they will be sentenced in early December. First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no parole eligibility for 25 years. Conspiracy to commit murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

kfraser@theprovince.com

twitter.com/keithrfraser

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