British Columbia

Crown concedes imperfect police investigation into Jamie Bacon's alleged murder plot

Bacon is charged with one count of counselling to commit murder in the Dec. 31, 2008 shooting of Dennis Karbovanec.

Bacon is charged with counselling an associate in attempted murder of Dennis Karbovanec in 2008

Jamie Bacon is on trial for allegedly counselling an associate to kill his partner in the drug trade. (CBC)

A Crown prosecutor trying to prove that Jamie Bacon planned the attempted murder of a close associate went on the defensive as he gave his closing arguments Tuesday, addressing mistakes in the police investigation and potential issues with handling of evidence.

Bacon is charged with one count of counselling to commit murder in the Dec. 31, 2008 shooting of Dennis Karbovanec.

Prosecutor Joe Bellows attempted to head off several arguments he anticipated hearing from Bacon's defence lawyers as he wrapped the Crown's case before a jury in B.C. Supreme Court.

"I believe my friends will submit to you that the investigation was deficient in certain areas. They may go so far as to say the investigation was incompetent," Bellows said.

He acknowledged that mistakes were made but argued the investigation as a whole was effective and provided sufficient proof of Bacon's guilt.

"Was the investigation perfect in every single respect? No. It is unlikely that any police investigation is perfect in every single respect," Bellows said.

2 key witnesses testified to murder plot

The Crown's case relies in large part on the testimony of two key witnesses, whose identities are protected by publication bans — CD, the alleged gunman, and AB, the man who says he lured Karbovanec to the Mission cul-de-sac where the hit was supposed to go down.

The two witnesses testified that Bacon had told them Karbovanec needed to be killed because he wasn't focused on their drug trafficking operation, and was more intent on using Oxycontin and sleeping with young girls.

CD, then a low-level drug dealer, told the jury he agreed to carry out the shooting in order to erase his $20,000 debt to Bacon. AB testified that he brought Karbovanec to the cul-de-sac under the guise of carrying out a "grow rip" at an illegal cannabis operation nearby.

But at the key moment, CD's gun jammed and Karbovanec managed to get away, the witnesses testified. Karbovanec was struck by two cartridges, one that grazed his head and another that became lodged in his back.

Neighbours called 911 to report shots being fired, but the sound was written off as New Year's Eve fireworks, the jury heard.

What happened to the gun after the shooting was one major question Bellows addressed during his submissions on Tuesday.

A young boy found a rusted 45-calibre Glock in Mission's Windebank Creek, but not until March 2018 — nearly a decade after Karbovanec was shot.

As Bellows pointed out, police had previously searched the area, following AB's directions. Though AB described hearing a"sploosh" as the gun landed, officers apparently did not search the pooled water along the creek where the firearm was eventually found.

"Even if the police can be faulted for not searching the pool of water … it does not diminish the Crown's evidence," Bellows said.

"You ought not to be influenced by a defence submission that urges a microscopic scrutiny of the police."

Questions about destruction of evidence

He also suggested defence lawyers may raise questions about whether key pieces of physical evidence were destroyed. Bellows said defence might suggest that some of the objects presented to the jury as exhibits were not the same as the evidence collected by police.

For example, when Mission RCMP received the bullet that was removed from Karbovanec's back, the staff sergeant who entered it into evidence noted that it had been "disposed of," Bellows told the jury.

That was apparently an error, and police say the bullet was not destroyed.

The same officer made a similar note about destroying evidence in reference to four cartridges that neighbours found near the scene of the shooting. He later went back, crossed that note out and wrote his initials on the edit when he realized it was a mistake, according to Bellows.

"The exhibits were never destroyed. In my submission, there was never any issue in terms of their continuity," he said.

Bellows wrapped up his closing arguments Tuesday afternoon. Bacon's defence team is set to wrap its case Wednesday.

About the Author

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay has more than a decade of experience in B.C. journalism, with a focus on the courts, health and social justice issues. She has also reported on human rights and crimes against humanity in Cambodia. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.