Heed caught off guard
by probe of Surrey Six investigator

Officer was alleged to be
in relationship with a witness

Ian Bailey, Globe and Mail, Jan. 28, 2010

British Columbia’s cabinet member in charge of policing is unhappy that he had to learn from the media that a “seasoned investigator” on the Surrey Six gangland murder case was under investigation himself because of an alleged relationship with a witness.

Although RCMP were aware of allegations in early December, Solicitor-General Kash Heed first heard about troubles in the case — one of largest gang-related investigations in B.C. history — by watching reports Tuesday on the suppertime TV news.

“I’m not happy with that at all. This is an issue that has been brewing for over a month, and I was not informed of it and my senior advisers and ministers of the ministry were not informed,” Mr. Heed yesterday told reporters in Victoria.

“It was incumbent upon someone to let us know that there was a significant issue out there that they are investigating.

“I must admit I have confidence at the end of the day that they will do an appropriate investigation, but that is something that is troubling for me because I was not made aware that even something of this nature had taken place.”

A senior Mountie said Mr. Heed might have a point.

“He should have been informed. I can’t say why that wasn’t done,” Chief Superintendent Janice Armstrong said. The families of the victims were briefed the afternoon the news broke.

Chief Supt. Armstrong, whose responsibilities include Lower Mainland policing involving the RCMP and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said allegations of the relationship involving a member of IHIT were first raised in early December 2009.

Chief Supt. Armstrong declined to disclose the rank of the officer with the team, which has been investigating the October, 2007, gang-related slayings that saw six men — two of them innocent bystanders — killed in a Surrey high rise. She declined comment on how the allegations were first raised, or how the officer was responding to them.

The RCMP said evidence provided by the witness has not been used by the Crown to make any decisions, nor as the basis for any charges in the case.

The officer has been placed on desk duties.

Mike Farnworth, the NDP critic for the solicitor-general, said he found it odd that Mr. Heed was not brought into the loop.

“I would think he would have been made aware that this was taking place,” he said.

Jamie Bacon, Michael Le, Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston are facing charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the slayings in which four gang rivals and two passersby were killed in a penthouse suite of the Balmoral Towers.

The innocent bystanders were Ed Schellenberg, a 55-year-old fireplace repairman servicing units in the complex, and 22-year-old Christopher Mohan, who lived across the hall from the apartment and was thought to have been heading out to play basketball when he was killed.

The other victims were Ryan Bartolomeo, 19, 26-year-old Michael Lal and his 21-year-old brother, Corey, as well as Edward Narong, 22.

Dennis Karbovanec pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder in the case.

He was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 15 years.

Mr. Karbovanec’s lawyer said he did not see how the situation would affect the ongoing prosecution. “I see no basis for any concerns,” Len Doust said.

However, Mr. Haevischer’s lawyer said he has a number of concerns.

David Butcher said he is wondering whether the witness or other witnesses have been tainted by inappropriate conduct by the officer.

“There’s a concern that we get to the bottom of the incident and whether or not any taint has occurred and if it’s occurred, whether it’s spread,” said Mr. Butcher.

He said the defence will have access, under court precedents, to the investigative file from the ongoing RCMP review of the matter because it’s a case of alleged misconduct relevant to the case.

“We will just have to wait for the fruits of that investigation. It’s only when we have the fruits that we’ll be able to determine consequences of this [alleged] misconduct,” he said.

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