A key Crown witness who was there when four gangsters and two innocent bystanders were gunned down will never be questioned in court because a judge has barred him from testifying.
Newly released court documents show Person X admitted shooting three of the victims and pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder in the case. He received a life sentence in 2009 with a reduced parole eligibility in exchange for his testimony.
But Justice Catherine Wedge issued a ruling in August concluding the law protecting informants gave her no choice but to prevent Person X’s testimony. Her abbreviated decision had been off limits until Friday, but her longer reasons for judgment will remain sealed to protect the identity of the informant.
“The privilege afforded to the confidential informer is one of the most absolute, unqualified rights recognized at law,” Justice Wedge wrote.
“No information can be disclosed which may tend to identify the informer.”
In another ruling disclosed this week, the same judge noted the Crown described Person X as one of two “very important” witnesses in the case. The other witness can only be described as Person Y.
“X and Y will provide the most important testimony in the trial and will set the substantive context in which the rest of the evidence will fit,” Justice Wedge said in that ruling.
Mike Wagner, a lawyer who acts regularly for the media on publication bans and open court matters, said it was clear that Person X was expected to be a significant witness for the Crown.
“The decision made by Justice Wedge no doubt impacted on the Crown’s case. The extent of the impact will remain to be seen as the trial continues.”
Justice Wedge presided over a secret hearing during eight days in May and June in front of lawyers for the Crown and a so-called “friend of the court.”
Defence lawyers for the men on trial, a lawyer for Person X, and media lawyers were not permitted at the hearing as part of the effort to protect the informant.
The trial of three accused in the Oct. 19, 2007, killings began in September. It is alleged that they engineered the execution-style killings because of competition in the region’s illicit drug trade.
In an attack at the apartment, two gunmen – one of them Person X – killed four men with gang connections and two bystanders.
Cody Haevisher, 29, and 29-year-old Matthew Johnston remain on trial in the case, but 28-year-old Quang Vinh Thang (Michael) Le pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit murder. Mr. Le had been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder. His sentencing hearing is next week.
James Bacon, the alleged leader of the Red Scorpions, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder in the death of Corey Lal. He is to face trial at another date.