VANCOUVER — A judge described the killing of six people in a Surrey, B.C., highrise 13 years ago as "shocking and depraved" as she sentenced a gang leader to 18 years in prison on Friday for his role in the crime.
With credit for time served while he was waiting to go on trial, Jamie Bacon will spend another five years and seven months in prison.
Families of the victims shed tears as Justice Kathleen Ker of the B.C. Supreme Court delivered the sentence.
Ker said gangs are "morally bankrupt" with no regard for human life.
"It is a selfish and immoral lifestyle," she said.
In a deal with the Crown, Bacon, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to murder Corey Lal in the so-called Surrey Six case.
He also pleaded guilty to one count of counselling to commit murder in a separate case involving the shooting of a man who survived an attack on Dec. 31, 2008.
A joint sentencing recommendation included 18 years for conspiracy to murder and 10 years for counselling to commit murder to be served concurrently.
"No doubt, some wish I would override these joint submissions," Ker said. "Judges are awarded discretion. It does not mean a judge is free to do whatever she wants."
The sentence represents an agreement negotiated by "extremely competent, senior and experienced counsel" who have considered it from all perspectives, she said.
Acknowledging the victim impact statements heard by the court, Ker said the grief felt by family members is "profound and palpable."
The deaths of the six men have left "black holes" in the lives of their families and friends who are "sentenced to a lifetime of despair and emptiness," she added.
Last month, court heard in an agreed statement of facts at Bacon's sentencing hearing that the killings were carried out to advance the drug trafficking business of a criminal gang known as the Red Scorpions.
The Red Scorpions formed when Bacon and another gang leader amalgamated and sought to expand their market using violence and intimidation to force others to surrender their drug lines, Crown attorney Mark Wolf said.
Bacon took offence when he heard that Lal had told one of his associates that he should work for Lal instead, Wolf said.
He met with Lal and others at a McDonald's restaurant, where he berated and threatened Lal, telling him he owed Bacon a $100,000 tax by the same night.
"Bacon told Lal that if he did not pay he would have to be prepared to deal with the consequences, namely, that Lal would be killed," Wolf told the court on Aug. 28.
Wolf said the murders were committed at the direction of Bacon and another gang leader.
Four of the victims were targeted but two men were innocent bystanders.
Police said Christopher Mohan, 22, who lived on the floor where the killings occurred, and Ed Schellenberg, 55, a maintenance worker, were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Outside court, Eileen Mohan said she will not stop fighting for justice for her son.
"Mr. Bacon gets to return home to his mother's arms," said Mohan, who closed her eyes as her voice cracked with emotion.
"Today is really, really difficult to accept. I want to respect the process but the process is not respecting us."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 11, 2020.
Hina Alam, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Jamie Bacon is 55.