How former associates of those charged with murder of Jonathan Bacon turned Crown witnesses

Jonathan Bacon

LAST June, it was revealed that former associates of the three who have been charged with the first-degree murder of Red Scorpion gang leader Jonathan Bacon – Jujhar Khun-Khun of Surrey, Michael Jones of Gibsons, and Jason McBride of North Vancouver – would be testifying against them at the trial that had gotten underway at the B.C. Supreme Court in Kelowna.

On August 14, 2011, three masked gunmen opened fire on Bacon, Larry Amero, a full-patch Hells Angels member from White Rock, James Riach of the Independent Soldiers and two women, Leah Hadden-Watts and Lyndsey Black, who were in a vehicle parked in front of the Delta Grand Hotel in Kelowna. Bacon was killed. Hadden-Watts was rendered a quadriplegic. Amero and Black sustained gunshot wounds. Riach escaped without injury.

Last week, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allan Betton released his detailed ruling explaining why he had dismissed a defence motion last June to stay charges against the accused on the basis of a breach of their right to be tried within a reasonable time. In the ruling, he provided more information about those who had agreed to testify against the accused.

The ruling noted: “The police investigation into the incident, assigned the name Project E‑Nitrogen, began almost immediately. Investigators very quickly recovered the burnt remains of the suspect vehicle, linked to Mr. Jones, as well as clothing linking the three applicants [Khun-Khun, Jones and McBride] to the shooting. The firearms used in the incident were recovered in November 2011, and security video from the Grand Hotel and surrounding businesses yielded further evidence regarding the movements of additional vehicles of interest on the morning of the incident.”

Khun-Khun, Jones and McBride were arrested on February 22, 2013, and charged with the first degree murder of Bacon as well as four counts each of attempted murder.

Manjinder “Manny” Hairan, 29, who was shot dead on January 15, 2013, in Surrey, was also involved in the Kelowna shooting.

The ruling revealed: “In December 2011 and again in May and June 2012, Manjinder Hairan gave statements to police detailing his role in the shooting, as well as that of the three applicants and a number of Mr. Hairan’s associates. Among the associates were AZ and LO (both of whom … later became cooperating witnesses for the Crown).”

The ruling said: “By the time of a PTC [pre-trial conference] on January 9, 2015, the Crown’s approach to proving its case against the applicants had evolved as the first of four individuals who had previously denied any involvement in or knowledge of the shooting provided witness statements and agreed to testify for the Crown. That witness was AZ, who gave several statements to police in late January 2014, and entered into a limited immunity agreement (“LIA”) in May 2014. As AZ was in custody on an unrelated matter, the Crown advised that disclosure could not occur until arrangements for his security were put in place some months later.

“While this was going on the police were engaged in trying to secure the cooperation of other witnesses in addition to AZ. Those efforts were successful and two further witnesses agreed to testify for the Crown. LO had begun engaging in the LIA process in January 2015. He provided several statements to police between April and June 2015, and his LIA was finalized in December 2015. He also waived his informer privilege at that time. However, the relevant disclosure could not be made until [redacted], and safety concerns related to his status as a cooperating Crown witness were addressed, which occurred in January 2016.

“MN had given a witness statement to police in March 2015. Given [redacted], investigators were of the view that disclosure related to MN could not occur until the disclosure related to LO could also be made.

“The cooperation of these witnesses led the Crown to change its trial strategy. Instead of seeking the admission of Mr. Hairan’s hearsay statements, it would now rely on the circumstantial evidence of AZ and the two new witnesses to prove the identity of the perpetrators, what came to be known in this application as Plan B. The Crown informed the applicants in a brief letter dated September 24, 2015 that it would no longer be seeking to rely on Mr. Hairan’s hearsay statements.”

The ruling also stated: “In June 2016, a further witness came forward to cooperate. HU [redacted], and began engaging in the LIA process with E‑Nitrogen investigators. He provided statements in June and July 2016, and an agreement was finalized in August 2016.”