B.C.'s Court of Appeal has rejected the case of a Lower Mainland gang member convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Cory Vallee was convicted in B.C. Supreme Court in 2018 of murder in the death of Kevin Leclair and conspiracy to commit murder against the notorious Bacon brothers — Jonathan, Jarrod and James.
Leclair was gunned down mid-afternoon Feb. 6, 2009, as he sat in his truck in a Langley mall parking lot.
"The theory of the Crown was that Vallee was a hired hitman of the UN gang and was culpable in both the conspiracy to murder and the murder of Leclair," the appeal ruling said.
During the lengthy 2016-2018 B.C. Supreme Court trial, the defence admitted the existence of a United Nations (UN) gang conspiracy led by Clayton Roueche to murder the Bacons and their associates between January 2008 and February 2009.
Among issues Vallee appealed were findings that he was part of that conspiracy and murdered Leclair.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Janice Dillon found that Vallee was the shooter of an AR‑15 automatic rifle in the case.
Further, Dillon said Vallee was introduced to UN high-level members by Roueche as "Frankie" and given the role of a hitman in the search to kill members of the Bacon group.
The appeal court said Dillon "did not have a reasonable doubt that Vallee was a member of the conspiracy."
Much of the guilty verdict rested on the evidence from other gangsters which Vallee's appeal lawyers said should be treated as suspect and not credible.
"The judge made extensive and detailed credibility findings based on the mountain of evidence she heard," the three-judge appeal panel heard. "We find no error demonstrated on which to interfere with her findings. We do not consider that there is any merit to this ground of appeal."
The appeal also dealt with the application for a mistrial stemming from the late admission of video evidence showing Vallee in a restaurant near the homicide scene with other gang members hours before the killing.
The defence had sought a mistrial on the admission of the late evidence. Dillon rejected that.
The appeal court found Dillon made no error in law in declining the mistrial application.
Police investigation ongoing
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC) said in a statement that the investigation into LeClair's death remains active with a search for and ongoing with a hunt for Conor D'Monte, an international fugitive who is wanted for murder.
"Our communities impacted by the violence deserve this commitment, as do the families and loved ones of the victims," said RCMP assistant commissioner Manny Mann, CFSEU-BC's chief officer. "CFSEU-BC will continue to coordinate a collaborative police effort in British Columbia to ensure those involved in criminal organizations and who put lives at risk will be brought before the courts to face justice."
Turf war and death bounties
The appeal ruling said the conspiracy to murder and the shooting of Leclair were part of a years-long violent turf war, including multiple murders and non-fatal shootings.
The turf war between the United Nations gang against the Bacon Brothers and Red Scorpions gangs was over the illegal supply of drugs.
The court said that Leclair was a former member of the UN gang who had crossed over to the Bacon Brothers.
The UN gang came to police attention in the 1990s. Dillon described it as running drug lines and supplying drug lines run by independent drug dealers with connections throughout B.C., Calgary, the United States, and Mexico.
The court said the Bacon Brothers and Red Scorpion gangs were criminal organizations also active in British Columbia during the period.
"They began cooperating together around 2007, and through that cooperation expanded their size and control over illegal drug activity in the Lower Mainland," the court said.
Further, Dillon's ruling said that the United Nations engaged in intelligence gathering on the Bacon Brothers/Red Scorpions and developed a hit list.
She said there were bounties on the heads of the Bacon Brothers or Red Scorpions. The most significant bounties were for the Bacon brothers, starting from an initial $100,000 but growing to as much as $300,000.
The Bacon Brothers
Jonathan Bacon was gunned down in Kelowna in August 2010.
Jarrod Bacon was released from prison in early 2021 after being sentenced in May 2012 to 14 years in prison for conspiracy to traffic cocaine when living in Abbotsford.
James Bacon was sentenced in 2020 to 18 years in prison for his conspiracy role in the so-called Surrey Six killings in 2007. There, six people were gunned down; among them, two bystanders with no connections to the drug world.