A previously convicted Calgary gangster has been acquitted on weapons-related charges by a judge who said the evidence didn't support a guilty verdict.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Scott Brooker said Thursday that he had a reasonable doubt in his mind whether Nick Chan knew there was a handgun in his vehicle the night police discovered it during a traffic stop seven years ago.
Chan was pulled over by members of the gang enforcement team in Chinatown in 2010.
When police searched his Toyota Tacoma, they found a .32-calibre and semi-automatic handgun under the driver's seat.
Chan was originally acquitted of the weapons charges in 2011, when the first judge ruled the search of the vehicle was unlawful. However, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned that decision and ordered a new trial.
Still facing 1st-degree murder trial
Chan, who is suspected of leading a gang called the FOBs through the most violent gang war ever to hit Calgary streets, is also charged with first-degree murder.
He is accused of ordering a hit on a rival gangster, Kevin Bontogon, that instead ended with the death of Kevin Anaya in 2008.
Chan also faces a charge of conspiracy to commit murder for the alleged plot on Bontogon's life.
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That trial is set to take place early next year.
In finding Chan not guilty on the weapons charges, Brooker said in court Thursday that there was no forensic evidence linking the accused to the gun, or to a knife that was also found.
"There is no admissible evidence before me that the accused was engaged in gang violence," Brooker said.
'Could have been someone else'
The judge said that to conclude Chan had a gun because he was living a violent gang lifestyle is not the only inference an observer could make.
"One can reasonably infer it could have been someone else with access to the Toyota," he said.
A bid by Chan's defence lawyer Michael Bates earlier this year to have evidence of the search excluded as unconstitutional was dismissed by Brooker.
However, he did say in August that testimony from Staff Sgt. Shane Plomondon — who said he ordered the traffic stop because Chan made an unsafe lane change — was "at odds with the evidence" and that he did not find Plomondon to be a credible witness.
Chan was a key figure arrested in July 2013, as part of the Calgary Police Service's largest gang investigation ever, which was dubbed Operation Desino.
In 2016, a jury acquitted Chan of first-degree murder for his alleged role ordering the Bolsa Restaurant triple murder on Jan. 1, 2009.