Lawyers for ‘Surrey Six’ convicted killers seeking mistrial

VANCOUVER — It will be a while yet before two men convicted in the Surrey Six murder trial get sentenced.

That became clear during an appearance in court Monday by lawyers for the accused and the Crown.

Lawyers for Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston are arguing that their clients received the same bad treatment meted out to co-accused Jamie Bacon when they were initially taken into custody.

That argument is part of an application to have their murder charges stayed on the grounds of alleged police misconduct.

Dagmar Dlab, a lawyer for Haevischer, on Monday told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge that she needed to have full access to the court file relating to Bacon’s complaints about treatment in Surrey Pre-Trial.

A judge found that the incarceration of Bacon in 2009 amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment.” Dlab said that proceeding was “extremely relevant” to the defence’s stay application.

“Mr. Bacon’s conditions of confinement were very similar to the conditions of confinement of Mr. Haevischer.”

Crown counsel Louise Kenworthy said prosecutors had no objection to the release of documents sought by the defence regarding the Bacon file, but added that the Crown questions the relevance of the material.

Brock Martland, a lawyer for Johnston, said he supported the application for access to the Bacon file, an application granted by the judge.

Martland made his own application to have two lawyers appointed to handle legal arguments that might be heard in the absence of the defence.

He said the defence had concerns about the police handling of an informant, related to a Crown witness who can only be identified as Person X due to a publication ban imposed by the judge. The Crown never called X as a witness. X pleaded guilty to murder in relation to the Surrey Six murders and is serving a sentence of life in prison.

Crown counsel Mark Levitz told the judge he needed some time to consider Martland’s application for the appointment of the lawyers. That matter was adjourned until Wednesday.

The defence’s stay application is scheduled to begin Oct. 27 with a bid by the Crown to have the defence motions thrown out of court.

However, if that attempt by the Crown fails, the defence is expected to call RCMP witnesses regarding the allegations of police misconduct. Hearing dates have also been scheduled for three weeks in December to deal with the issues surrounding the arrest and confinement of Haevischer and Johnston in 2009 and 2010.

Only if the defence applications fail will the case then proceed to sentencing.

On Thursday, following a year-long trial, the judge convicted the two men of six counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

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 of life in prison.

Bacon, who also faces murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges in connection with the October 2007 Surrey Six murders, has a trial set for May next year.

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