A senior Vancouver-area gang member, who pleaded guilty to a murder plot and killing amid a bloody gang war that tragically underscored how easily innocent victims could be caught in the violence, was sentenced Friday to 12 months in prison.
Daniel Russell, 32, who has been in custody since 2009, received nearly eight years of credit for time served, leaving another four years and two months left in his sentence.
Russell, a senior member in the United Nations gang, pleaded guilty to plotting to kill rivals Jonathan Bacon, James Bacon and Jarrod Bacon — collectively known in B.C. as the Bacon brothers — and their Red Scorpions gang associates.
He also admitted to manslaughter for his role in the fatal shooting of Jonathan Barber, a stereo installer with no connection to gangs or organized crime who was killed in May 2008 in a case of mistaken identity.
Very few details about the case can be reported. Nearly all of the evidence presented as part of Russell’s guilty plea and sentencing have been hidden behind a sweeping publication ban to protect other trials that have yet to be concluded.
Russell admitted to being involved in the murder conspiracy between January 2008 and February 2009. Barber was killed several months after that plot began.
Barber was driving a Porsche along a street in suburban Burnaby, east of Vancouver, when the vehicle was sprayed by bullets. The Porsche was reportedly owned by Jamie Bacon.
Barber’s girlfriend was in another vehicle following Barber. She was wounded by automatic gunfire.
“Those who engage in well-organized criminal activity for profit, enforced by violence, live outside any reasonable norm,” Associate Chief Justice Austin Cullen, who sentenced Russell in B.C. Supreme Court, wrote in a heavily redacted version of his sentencing decision.
“They enter a world of moral squalor and brutish behaviour. Where, as here, such offenders jeopardize or destroy the lives of those who choose to live productively in a way that contributes to the well being of family, friends and the community, it is important that sentences carry a strong message of repudiation.”
Cullen noted Barber’s father submitted a victim-impact statement, though the contents of that statement haven’t been made public.
“It (the victim-impact statement) reinforces that tragic circumstances can and often do flow from the conduct engaged in by the offender and others,” wrote Cullen.
“Mr. Barber was in the wrong place at the wrong time and for that he lost his life, and his family and friends must bear that burden for the balance of theirs.”
Barber’s death came amid escalating violence throughout B.C.’s Lower Mainland as several gangs battled over the region’s drug trade.
By early 2009, gang shootings became a near-daily occurrence in the Vancouver area, as dozens of shootings, many of them fatal, targeted known gang members and people “known to police.”
Jamie Bacon is facing trial for conspiracy to commit murder in relation to a case known as the “Surrey Six” murders in October 2007 — another case involving innocent bystanders.
Six people were found dead in an apartment building in Surrey, though two of the victims — 22-year-old Chris Mohan and 55-year-old Ed Schellenberg — were, like Barber, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mohan lived in apartment building, while Schellenberg was making his rounds doing routine fireplace maintenance.
The Bacons’ middle brother, Jarrod, is serving a 12-year sentence on drug trafficking charges, while Jonathan Bacon was fatally shot in Kelowna in 2011.