Cross-examination delayed

The cross-examination of a witness who testified in the Jonathan Bacon murder trial in mid-August won't take place until the end of September.

The first-degree murder trial for Michael Jones, Jason McBride and Jujhar Khun-Khun began in May, almost six years after the midday shooting that left Bacon, leader of the Red Scorpion gang, dead and three others injured.

Throughout August, defence for the accused have taken issue with the pace of the Crown's disclosure of evidence, specifically police notes from conversations with several key witnesses.

These witnesses are former associates of the accused, who have since become co-operating Crown witnesses.

Witness B, who can't be named due to a publication ban, testified about his involvement with the Dhak gang and the accused on Aug. 16. While the defence was meant to cross-examine Witness B following the Crown's questioning, this has been postponed due to the defence not having all the Crown's evidence in time.

Instead of the cross-examination in August, along with testimony from other similar witnesses, the Crown intended to bring forth evidence related to communication between the accused and their associates using PGP encryption, an encryption technology that helps protect the identity of the users.

Following the seizure of several gang members' Blackberry phones, technology was developed in 2014 that allowed police to access the encrypted messages. 

On Wednesday, the court decided defence needed more time to prepare for the PGP evidence.

“Given what counsel have indicated to me today, I'm not going to press the matter of having this PGP evidence entered, particularly in light of the position of the Crown,” said Justice Allan Betton.

The PGP evidence is expected to be entered into court during the week of Sept. 18, and the cross-examination of Witness B by defence is expected after that. Testimony by two other key Crown witnesses will follow Witness B's cross-examination.

“This is a matter that needs to progress and needs to get to its conclusion at its earliest possible time, while ensuring that the trial is fair,” Justice Betton said.

Crown Prosecutor Dave Ruse told the court Wednesday that there is “very little non-PGP evidence left for the court to consider, perhaps, in total, maybe four days.”

Despite the delays, Ruse assured the court that they are “not at risk of delaying this trial any further,” due to agreement between the Crown and defence on admissions that will cut out some of the trial time they thought they would need.  

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