Thirteen years after her son was killed in what is known as the Surrey Six murders, Eileen Mohan said Thursday she fears a new ruling in the case could overturn the guilty verdicts of two men.
Late last month the B.C. Court of Appeal affirmed the guilty verdicts of Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston but also opened the door for a potential appeal.
The court allowed the appeal in part, saying the trial judge made an error in dismissing the applications without an evidentiary hearing.
It said the extent of police misconduct needs to be fully examined in a hearing because the alleged abuses “risked undermining the integrity of the judicial process.”
While the guilty verdicts against Johnston and Haevischer still stand, the convictions are quashed and they can return to B.C. Supreme Court for an evidentiary hearing on the applications for a stay of proceedings for abuse of process.
Mohan’s son Christopher, 22, was an innocent bystander killed in the shootings, along with 55-year-old Ed Schellenberg.
Mohan said she is so disappointed that the findings released Thursday are “even an opportunity” for Haevischer and Johnston to process the case.
“What we’re saying to the criminals of the entire universe is Canada is a great place to come take innocent lives, murder them and then you can drag your convictions and try to get free for years and years and years to come,” she said.
“Our Canadian laws need to get into the 21st century and this case is a prime example of how we, as family members… my son’s innocent life was violently and horrifically taken — that is not even taken into consideration in the courts.”
In 2014 Haevischer and Johnston were both convicted of six counts of first-degree murder for the 2007 killings and were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
At trial, Crown outlined how the killings at Surrey’s Balmoral Tower were meant as revenge for an unpaid debt between rival gangs.
“How are we supposed to make sense of this?” Mohan said Thursday.
“What has been overlooked is the lives that were taken. And especially an innocent family’s lives, like ours. Christopher’s gone, our lives are shattered forever.”
It is not known yet when the abuse of process case will be heard.
“I sometimes sit and think ‘this case will take me to my grave’ and I’m not saying it as a figure of speech. It has a mental toll on you,” Mohan said.
“If they walk, I think that the entire court system will need to be overhauled. The entire justice system will need to be overhauled.”
“There’s no way you can walk into people’s homes and steal their children’s lives and expect to walk free. There’s no way.”
In September, gang leader Jamie Bacon was sentenced for his role in the killings after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in July.
Given credit for time served, Bacon’s 18-year sentence amounted to five years and seven months.