Judge: 'Chasing our tails'

The judge in the Jonathan Bacon murder trial says they're “chasing their tails,” as the current delay in the trial continues well into its fourth month.

The first-degree murder trial for Jason McBride, Michael Jones and Jujhar Khun-Khun began in May 2017, almost six years after the shooting took place outside Kelowna's Delta Grand Hotel on a Sunday afternoon, leaving Bacon dead and three others injured.

The trial, originally scheduled to take eight months, has faced several delays, but the current and most lengthy one revolves around statements made by the final three Crown witnesses, all former associates of the accused, who have yet to testify.

Defence successfully applied in August to see all records of the conversations the witnesses have had with their police handlers up to September. Defence says the conversations, which may include what they're getting in return for their testimony, will be used to assess the witnesses' credibility during cross-examination.

The delay comes from the need for Witness Protection to vet these lengthy transcripts, to ensure nothing in them could point to the witnesses' whereabouts or compromise their safety.

On Friday, it was mentioned that there are additional similar records of witness conversations that go past the September end date in the original application that should be vetted and disclosed as well.

“Due to the ongoing nature of the witness support team handlers with the protected witnesses, it seems like they will create more notes and they will create more notes right up until the witness support team handlers bring these protected witnesses to court,” said Crown prosecutor David Ruse, somewhat frustrated.

“We're essentially getting bled to death by a thousand cuts of delay here.”

Justice Allan Betton agreed the trial needs to get moving once again.

“I am not going to see this put off indefinitely while we try to get records at the last minute on every person who talks to these witnesses, we simply have to get this trial going,” Betton said.

“We are chasing our tails here to some extent.”

The records in question, up to September, are expected to be fully vetted and in the hands of defence by the end of next week.

Justice Betton will next meet with the Crown and defence lawyers on March 23 to determine when the trial can start back up.

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