British Columbia

Cody Haevischer, Matthew Johnston sentenced to life in Surrey Six slayings

Convicted killers Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston have been given life sentences with no parole for 25 years over the infamous Surrey Six slayings.

Both men also sentenced on charges to conspire to commit murder

Matthew Johnston, on the left, and Cody Haevischer are depicted in this sketch made in a B.C. Supreme Court courtroom.
Matthew Johnston, on the left, and Cody Haevischer are depicted in this sketch made in a B.C. Supreme Court courtroom. (CBC)

Convicted murderers Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston have received mandatory life sentences at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

The pair of former Red Scorpion gang members were found guilty in October of six counts each of first-degree murder for the so-called Surrey Six slayings in 2007. They face a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years on those charges.

Johnston also received 20 years on a charge of conspiracy — minus time served — to murder rival gangster Corey Lal. He stood defiant with his hands in his pockets in court as his sentence was read, and earlier in the day he was laughing and grinning before the victim impact statements were read.

Haevischer received 18 years on the same charge and was also given credit for time served. 

The morning was taken up with nine victim impact statements read to the court.

Eileen Mohan, the mother of victim Christopher Mohan, cried as told the court that her son's room remained untouched, as though she is still waiting for him to come home.

Eileen Mohan spoke to the media after the sentencing of Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston. Mohan's 22-year-old son, Christopher, was killed along with five other people at a Surrey, B.C., high rise in 2007. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

"The courts of B.C. has set a verdict that is loud and clear to gangsters who think they can walk into innocent people's homes, steal the precious and innocent lives of their children, that they will be dealt with the highest consequences," Mohan said after the sentencing. 

She said she could not make eye contact with the pair when she read her victim impact statement, but she wanted them to know what they had taken away from her. 

"For seven years I've kept this face for Christopher, but today is the most difficult days in seven years and it seemed like everything happened all over again," she said, her voice cracking.

The two killers did not choose to speak in court today. 

To that Mohan said, "I don't think they are man enough to do that … they know what they did and I wanted to tell them today that when I received Christopher in casket what it was like. And that's why they didn't address the court, because what they can say? They know what they've done." 

Crown prosecutor Mark Levitz said the pair received the highest sentences warranted under the charges for which they were convicted.

"We had some difficult days on this case, and I all had to do was think of the families and see the crime scene pictures, and that's what kept me going," he said.

The slayings in 2007

During the trial, Crown prosecutors argued Johnston and Haevischer went to the apartment to kill Lal because he had failed to meet a deadline to repay a $100,000 drug debt.The other five were killed so that there would be no witnesses to Lal's killing, the Crown said. 

At the time, Metro Vancouver was in the grips of a violent gang war dominated by a deadly rivalry between the Red Scorpions and the UN gangs.

A total of 19 shots were fired in the massacre, which took place at about 2:40 p.m. PT on Oct. 19, 2007. The bodies were found in two groups of three inside the apartment.

The six all had their heads covered and shots were fired directly into the backs of the heads of three of the victims. One other was shot in the back, another in the head, and one in the face and neck.

Two of the victims — Mohan, 22, and Ed Schellenberg, 55 — were innocent bystanders who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The other four victims, Ryan Bartolomeo, 19, brothers Michael Lal, 26, and Corey Lal, 21, and Edward Narong, 22, were described by police as having criminal lifestyles.

With files from Terry Donnelly