POLITICS

Bacon brother gets separate trial in Surrey Six gang hit

08/02/2012 08:40 EDT | Updated 10/02/2012 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - The trial of four men accused in a gang-related massacre in a suburban apartment building in 2007 won't go to court until next year and already, the complexities of the case have split it into two.

Jamie Bacon, one of three notorious brothers police have linked to Vancouver's gang war, will be tried by himself.

Neil MacKenzie, a spokesman for the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch, said Bacon's trial has been separated from that of three other co-accused in order to allow Bacon to bring up matters that apply only to his case, including issues of solicitor-client privilege.

MacKenzie wouldn't elaborate.

Bacon and his co-accused — Cody Rae Haevischer, Mathew Johnston and Quang Vinh Thang (Michael) Le — face first-degree murder charges and charges of conspiring to murder.

Police have said four of the victims in the so-called Surrey Six murders were gang related, but the other two were simply innocent bystanders in the wrong place at the wrong time. They included a young man who lived in the apartment across the hall and a fireplace repairman.

Dennis Karbovanec, pleaded guilty in April 2009 to three counts of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the slayings

Defence lawyer Paul Doroshenko, who is not involved in the case, said in cases with multiple co-accused, defence lawyers sometimes become concerned about their own clients' best interests after learning facts in group meetings that could be used in court.

"You end up in situations where you have knowledge of all sorts of things," said Doroshenko.

"An accused person is entitled to know that the lawyer representing somebody else does not have knowledge about them that they obtained in the confidence of a lawyer."

Doroshenko said another issue could be the differences in the cases against each defendant.

Though the defendants are accused of the same crimes, the special circumstance of one defendant could slow justice for the others, he said.

In 2010, a B.C. Supreme Court Judge ruled Bacon's constitutional rights were violated during a stay in a pre-trial jail. His lawyer argued his being held in solitary confinement was inhumane and having his phone and visitation privileges curbed also violated his rights.

Police have publicly accused the three Bacon brothers of being gang kingpins.

Jamie Bacon's middle brother, Jarrod, is serving a 12-year-sentence after being convicted in May on drug trafficking charges, while his eldest brother, Jonathan, was shot to death in a gang hit in Kelowna last August.

According to Doroshenko, the Crown is open to separating such trials because it also benefits their case.

"The Crown and the defence in situations like this are alert to the possibility that a conflict could arise later on or there may be an apparent conflict on the face of it," he said.

"Nobody wants the case to end up a mistrial or something like that down the road as the result of a potential conflict."

Last month, Bacon lost an appeal of a conviction on weapons offences that sent him to prison for seven years.

MacKenzie said pre-trial applications for the Surrey six matter have begun, but trial dates have not been set and it's unlikely the jury trials will begin before next year.