One of the men behind the 2011 broad daylight murder of a prominent B.C. gangster has been denied release from a facility where he’s said to have become an “influential inmate.”
Michael Kerry Hunter Jones, 36, was sentenced alongside Juhjhar Khun-Khun in 2018 to 18 years in prison for conspiracy to murder Jonathan Bacon, Larry Amero and James Riach outside Kelowna’s Delta Grand Hotel Aug. 14, 2011.
Bacon, the eldest of three brothers linked to the Red Scorpions gang, was the only casualty of the attack, which saw two masked gunmen charge toward his Porsche Cayenne in a busy tourism locale while one fired an AK47-style gun. Evidence at the trial showed that Jones and company had tracked him to that location and plotted out the deadly attack.
Jones could have been released on day parole or full parole this month, but he was denied release by the Parole Board of Canada, which described him as an “undue risk to society.”
“Given the nature and gravity of your offence, assessed high level of need with regard to both your static and dynamic factors, ongoing concern regarding your associations and affiliation with prominent security threat group members at your site, lack of engagement in your correctional plan over a protracted period of time, relative recentness of any gains made and lack of viable release plans is sufficient for the board to conclude that you would present an undue risk to society of released,” the board wrote in a decision addressed to Jones dated Sept. 15.
“The board also finds your release will not contribute to the protection of society by facilitating your reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen.”
Jones has been behind bars since 2015, when he was arrested alongside Khun Kuhn and Jason McBride for the gangland slaying. McBride was sentenced to life in prison, with eligibility to apply for parole at 18 years, for second-degree murder.
At his 2018 sentencing, the sentencing judge explained he would be credited 1.5 days for every day he’d served in prison, and that is why he was up for parole already.
Since being behind bars, the parole board indicated that his behaviour has been far from ideal.
While in remand custody Jones and his co-accused took part in activities that undermined the security of the facility, the board said. The parole board highlighted one incident where they intentionally propped a living unit door on the pin, not allowing it to close behind them. That allowed the inmates in his unit to rush out of the unit towards another unit, the parole board said.
“Staff intervention was required to separate the two units; however, no physical contact was made between the two units,” the parole board said.
Jones was also reportedly rude to staff, participated in a hunger strike, engaged in a fight with his co-accused and was observed in another offender’s cell
During his time in federal custody, he hasn’t picked up any institutional charges, however, the Security Intelligence Department told the parole board that Jones’ associations with those involved in criminal organizations remained a concern.
“As an example of this concern, the Correctional Service of Canada notes a birthday party was held for (Jones) last year,” the parole board said.
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“At (his) table were noted to be some of the ‘most influential inmates’ in the prison population who are often brought to the attention of the security intelligence department for ties to security threat groups and involvement in sub-culture activities.”
The correctional service noted that birthday parties are “not thrown in the honour of just any inmate,” which speaks to the level of “respect and influence” Jones holds among the inmate population.
Jones, however, denies special affiliation or relationship with these threat groups or inmates.
“The Correction Service of Canada rebukes this stating this behaviour is not reflective of an inmate ‘merely interacting on a casual or friendly basis’ and indicates a level of relationship that extends beyond ‘merely living in the same environment,'” the parole board said.
These relationships, the board said, represent an aggravating aspect of his case that detracts from the manageability of Jones’ risk in the community.
Working in his favour, however, is that he has positive interactions with correctional staff, employers, program facilitators and peers. He also maintained institutional employment as a sports co-ordinator in January of 2020 and has received excellent work performance ratings.
The parole board said he also acknowledged the harm associated with his role in the killing of Bacon and has expressed remorse.
At the time of the shooting, Larry Amero was driving, Bacon was in the front passenger seat and James Riach was in the back seat. They were with companions Leah Hadden-Watts and Lyndsey Black.
McBride, who was seen in video footage shown in court, can be seen approaching the Cayenne in white sneakers, with since-deceased Manny Hairan, who shot the car with a Glock-style gun.
As the shooting unfolded, people walking dogs, children and elderly hotel guests were seen running for cover.