Eileen Mohan Photo by Chandra Bodalia
LAST month Red Scorpions gang leader Michael (Quang Vinh Thang) Le, 28, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the Surrey Six murder case. Initially, he had been charged with one count of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Consequently, a charge of first-degree murder for the murder of Corey Lal was stayed.
On Tuesday, B.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Austin Cullen sentenced Le to 12 years in prison, which means that his term will end in three years and a month after double-time credit for pre-sentence custody since 2009. The Harper government has since done away with double-time credit.
Le, who was born in Vietnam, but is a Canadian citizen, fled to his country of birth to escape prosecution. But when he travelled to the Philippines, which has an extradition treaty with
Canada, he was arrested when he landed at the airport in Manila in June 2009 and sent back here.
Le’s co-accused, Matthew James Johnson and Cody Rae Haevischer, are charged with six counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Another co-accused, Jamie Bacon, who will be tried separately, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Corey Lal and, along with Haevischer and Johnston, conspiracy to commit murder in Lal’s death.
A fifth accused, Sophon Sek, is charged with manslaughter in the case and his next court appearance takes place in January 2014.
Crown counsel Peter Juk told the judge that there had been ongoing animosity between Bacon and other members of the Red Scorpions and a group of rival drug traffickers led by Corey Lal.
At a meeting in late September 2007, Le and Bacon and some others including a Crown witness, who can be identified only as Person Y, met at a restaurant in Vancouver where Bacon told Le that Lal had refused to pay the $100,000 he had “taxed” him and finally said that Lal had to be “clipped” (killed). Le ended up telling Bacon to do whatever he wanted and needed to do.
Le said he knew someone who can be identified only as Person A who could get them access to the Balmoral Towers where the murders took place.
Le met with Johnston, Person A and another person who can be identified only as Person X, who has also pleaded guilty in the case, at a Korean restaurant in Surrey before the murders.
Following the murders, Le was informed by Johnston about them. Le was angry when he learned that his friend, Eddie Narong, had also been killed. Person X told Le that things did not go as planned and six people had been murdered. He told Le they had to be killed because they saw their faces. Person X admitted that he had killed three people and said that accused Haevischer had killed the remaining three.
The prosecutor said that Le had been a “very successful” drug trafficker and was also involved in crimes of violence and intimidation.
LE apologized to the families of the murder victims.
He said: “I sincerely would like to apologize to all the victims and the members of their family for all the pains and sufferings that my actions had generated. I also would like to apologize to them for this heinous and despicable crime committed by the Red Scorpions gang. If I could turn back the hand of time, I would have never created the Red Scorpions gang.”
Eileen Mohan, mother of innocent victim Chris Mohan, in her victim impact statement said: “The blood that spilled out of my son, was my blood, and the lifeless body that was left behind, was my flesh, the spirit that was taken away was my spirit.”
She said: “The bullet that killed Christopher also took a part of his father, his sister and his cousins,” referring to how the tragedy tore her family apart.
Jourdane Lal, the sister of murder Victims Corey and Michael Lal, in her victim impact statement said: “My life during these past 74 months has been a series of painfully dreadful days, sleepless nights and defeated times.”
She added: “My greatest hope and desire is that the people responsible for these crimes feel the agonizing pain in these words I’ve written here today and their hearts will ache with the sadness and devastation they have sentenced us to. I’m not scared of death now.”
Le’s lawyer, Chris Johnson, said that his client’s plea was indicative of his remorse and that he was an intelligent person for whom that is some real hope.
AT the start of the trial two months ago, the Crown told B.C. Supreme Court that Red Scorpions gang members went to apartment 1505 of the Balmoral Towers at 9830 East Whalley Ring Road in Surrey on October 19, 2007, to kill a rival drug dealer Corey Lal because he had failed to pay $100,000 they had demanded from him for trafficking on their turf, and they killed five others to ensure that there would be no witnesses.
Innocent victims Chris Mohan, 22, and Edward J. Schellenberg, 55, of Abbotsford and four other victims who police said led criminal lifestyles – brothers Corey Lal, 21, and Michael Lal, 26, and Edward Narong, 22, and Ryan Bartolomeo, 19, were killed execution-style.
The trial of Haevischer and Johnston has been adjourned until next month.