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Category "Crime"

25Sep

Teen in wheelchair has iPhone ripped from his hands by thief aboard Surrey bus

by admin

Metro Vancouver Transit Police have released video and photos of a woman they say stole an iPhone out of the hands of a teen in a wheelchair.

The 19-year-old man with physical disabilities was travelling aboard the 96 B-Line bus from Guildford Mall to Newton on the morning of Sept. 12. When the bus stopped at 80th Avenue and King George Boulevard in Surrey, a woman approached him and grabbed his phone.

“After a brief struggle, the victim, who is paralyzed in one hand, could no longer hold on and the suspect was able to rip the phone from his grip and step off the bus,” Transit Police Sgt. Clint Hampton said in a statement.

The crime was captured by the bus security camera.


Metro Vancouver Transit Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect who allegedly stole a mobile phone from a young man with physical disabilities.

Transit police handout

Police say the victim was on his way to Kwantlen Polytechnic University, where he is working toward improving his independence and job skills.

“His mobile phone meant a great deal to him as the large screen of the iPhone 6S helped make texting and reading easier for him,” Hampton said. “Given the circumstances, the officers investigating this file helped to pay off the outstanding debt on the phone, in order for the victim to acquire a new phone.”

The alleged phone thief is described as white, around 5-feet-4, with a slim build and blond hair. She was wearing a brown and green hoodie, brown and green running tights and green running shoes.

Anyone with information about her identity — along with anyone who witnessed the incident — is asked to contact the police tip line at 604-516-7419 and refer to File No. 2019-16866.

12Aug

Surrey RCMP investigating after man shot in head Monday morning

by admin


Police are investigating after a man was shot in the head early Monday morning in Surrey’s Whalley neighbourhood.


John Kenney / Postmedia

Police are investigating after a man was shot in the head early Monday morning in Surrey’s Whalley neighbourhood.

RCMP received calls around 1:50 a.m. on Monday reporting gunfire in the 10600-block of King George Boulevard.

The man was taken to hospital for treatment and released.

Serious crime investigators are looking into the shooting and early indications are that the shooting was targeted.

No suspects have been publicly identified and there have been no arrests in the shooting.

Anyone with information about the shooting or who may have security camera footage of the shooting is asked to contact investigators.

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9Aug

Daphne Bramham: Why won’t B.C. fund Karly’s addiction recovery?

by admin

As of today, Karly has been clean and sober for 30 days after four years of battling addiction.

Addiction made the 17-year-old from Chiliwack vulnerable to exploitation and bullying. It disrupted her schooling, left her psychotic, suicidal, near death and unable to care for her year-old baby.

“In addiction, I never thought I could be this happy without drugs,” she said earlier this week.

“There’s obviously times when I’m feeling like I don’t want to live any more. But I realize a lot of people do care for me, and it would hurt a lot of people if I did leave.”

Up until now, Karly didn’t worry that fentanyl laced in the cocaine, crystal meth and other street drugs she’s used might kill her, as it has more than 4,000 other British Columbians in the past four years.

“Honestly, I just thought I wasn’t going to get that wrong batch. I thought I could trust my dealers. Now, I’m starting to realize the risk. I was using alone. It’s pretty scary now that I think about it.

“I could have overdosed, my poor son he would have had no mom.”

But Karly’s recovery is at risk because the B.C. government is refusing to pay for her treatment. The question of why was bounced from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to the Ministry of Children and Family Development, back to addictions, then back to MCFD, and finally to Fraser Health over two days.

Friday afternoon, MCFD responded that due to privacy concerns it could not discuss the specifics of the case.

The spokesperson did confirm that the government pays for youth residential treatment. Funds are allocated by the health ministry to regional health authorities. MCFD social workers are supposed to refer youth and families to the health authority, which is supposed to do the assessments and placements.

Reached late Friday afternoon, Fraser Health said that it does not have provincial funding for youth beds at Westminster House, where Karly is getting treatment, only adult beds.

Postmedia editors and I are also concerned about Karly’s privacy and vulnerability. For that reason, we are not using her real name, or that of her mother.

•••

On July 10, her mother Krista found Karly white-faced and barely breathing on the floor. It was a moment she had been bracing for since 2015.

Krista, who is a nurse, didn’t need the naloxone kit that she keeps at the ready. She shook Karly awake and got her into the car to take her to Surrey Creekside Withdrawal Management Centre.

En route, Karly flailed about, kicking in the glove box, banging her head against the window and screaming.

“She was in psychosis. She was not my child,” Krista said. “It took six nurses and two doctors to get her inside.”

At 9 p.m, Karly called her mom to say that if they didn’t let her out, she was going to escape, prostitute myself and get enough money to kill herself.

“I felt in my heart that she was really going to do it.”

Panicked, Krista called Susan Hogarth, Westminster House’s executive director, and begged for help. Westminster House is a residential treatment centre for women, with four designated youth beds in New Westminster.

Even though it was past midnight, Hogarth agreed to take Karly.

“We can’t not put a child somewhere,” Hogarth said this week.

The cost for treatment at Westminster House is $9,000 a month, meaning Krista needs $27,000 to pay for the three months of treatment that counsellors say Karly needs to be stabilized enough to go into second-stage care.

The crucial first month of treatment was covered using donations from individuals, and Hockey for the Homeless.

Now there are bills to be paid.

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Krista’s only contact with the government has been through MCFD. A social worker helped Karly get mental health services, pre- and post-natal care and helped Krista gain guardianship of her year-old grandson last month.

It’s the social worker who told the family that the government would pay for a 10-week, co-ed live-in treatment program at Vancouver’s Peak House, but not Westminster House.

But Krista and Westminster House’s director believe a co-ed program that has no trauma counselling is not a good fit for Karly.

The only other option suggested was outpatient treatment. But Karly’s already tried and failed at that. Besides, her dealer lives two blocks from their home.

If Karly was an adult on welfare, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction would pay $30.90 a day for her room and board in residential care.

Bizarrely, Krista said the social worker suggested maybe Karly could just wait a year and then her treatment would be fully covered.

“This is f–ing BS. I can’t wait until she’s older. She’ll be dead,” said Krista, who has had her own problems with addiction. An alumni of Westminster House, she is four years into recovery.

Concerns about how to pay for Karly’s treatment in addition to caring for Karly’s baby and Karly’s younger sister are wearing heavily on Krista. She’s had to take a medical leave from her job, and is worried about how she will pay her rent.

She’s already spent four years in a constant state of readiness in case Karly overdoses. There’s naloxone in the house. The razors are hidden because “Karly cuts, cuts.” Every time Karly took a bath, Krista stood apprehensively by the door because her daughter had threatened to drown herself.

But now?

“She is doing amazing,” Krista said. “The first time I saw her was 15 to 16 days in, and she had colour in her cheeks and they were my kid’s eyes, beautiful brown . . .

“When I brought her son to see her, her smile so genuine. I had not seen it in so many years. The smile was what I remember of her as a kid.”

Hogarth wonders why the government can’t look at the bigger picture of what Karly’s untreated addiction might cost — from more overdoses to her mother’s fragile state to the fate of her son.

Everybody, Hogarth said, deserves a chance at recovery and not just harm reduction interventions.

“Karly is not the easiest client in the world,” she said with a laugh. “But she’s worth it because we want her to go home to her son and to be able to raise him.”

For now, the non-profit Westminster House is covering Karly’s costs with donations augmented by a GoFundMe campaign organized by Krista’s friends.

But it can’t do that forever, or without more donations.

As for Karly, for the first time in years she’s thinking about a future. She won’t be ready to start school in September, but plans to go back as soon as she can for Grade 12 and then go on to study so that she can work in health care.

“I feel like my story can help other people.”

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7Aug

Daphne Bramham: College roots out the bad, white-collar dealers, one pharmacist at a time

by admin

When you think about shady drug dealers, it’s usually in the context of the Downtown Eastside or the Surrey Strip.

But in the last three months alone, the B.C. College of Pharmacists has rooted out some white-collar guys who were running illegal pharmacies, faking prescriptions, doling out methadone improperly, and plumping up their dispensing numbers with made-up prescriptions for over-the-counter drugs and vitamins.

While their crimes don’t have the same kind of mean-streets vibe as the illicit dealers, it doesn’t mean that the guys in white coats didn’t do some seriously bad things.

Let’s start with William Byron Sam, who is still under investigation by the college for “knowingly operating an unlicensed pharmacy.”

A complaint outcome report posted on the college’s website says “serious public risk indicators were present within the pharmacy.“ It doesn’t spell out what those serious risks are and, in an emailed response to my question about where Sam was getting the drugs from, the college refused to say.

In March, the college cancelled the licence for Garlane Pharmacy #2, which Sam was operating at 104-3380 Maquinna Dr. in Vancouver’s Champlain Heights.

(It still has two five-star ratings on Yelp! So, if it’s a legitimate drugstore you’re after, you might want to check the college’s listings.)

Sam’s problems began in 2015 with a practice review, which was followed up by a request for more information. In 2017, the college told him his conduct would be the subject of a hearing, admonishing him for failing to respond to the college after a practice review in 2015 and to a request for more information in 2016.

In May, Salma Sadrudin Damji, another Vancouver pharmacist, was found to have used a prescription pad from a medical clinic and falsified 62 prescriptions for Schedule 1 drugs, which include heroin, LSD, ecstasy and methaqualone (aka Quaalude) using three patient names and two physician names. In May, the college fined her $1,000, imposed a 90-day suspension and forbid her from owning or managing a pharmacy for three years or acting as a preceptor or mentor for pharmacy students.

Beyond that, the college says it can’t comment.

North Vancouver’s Davood Nekoi Panah provided monetary incentives to a patient, dispensed Schedule 1 drugs without an authorized prescription in unlabelled and mislabelled containers — all without taking reasonable steps to confirm the identify of the patients before giving them the drugs.

He was fined $10,000. Starting Sept. 4, he can’t work for two months and can’t be a pharmacy manager or preceptor for two years. Questions about him were also met with a no-further-comment response from the college.

Amandeep Khun-Khun has every appearance of being a good guy. From 2010 until 2012, he was on the college’s community practice advisory committee making recommendations related to community pharmacy practices. He was a preceptor for UBC pharmacy students and was quoted in UBC’s 2013 brochure aimed at recruiting other mentors.

But in June, Khun-Khun was fined $30,000 and suspended from practice for 540 days. He can only return to full pharmacist status if he passes the college’s jurisprudence exam and completes an ethics course.

The mailing address for his company, Khun-Khun Drugs, is the Shoppers Drug Mart on the tony South Granville Rise.

Over three years, the Vancouver pharmacist processed more than 15,000 false prescriptions for vitamins and over-the-counter drugs — things like aspirin and ibuprofen — on the PharmaNet records of seven individuals. But those seven people didn’t know anything about it.

Khun-Khun admitted he “directed pharmacy assistants to process transactions weekly on PharmaNet in order to artificially inflate the pharmacy’s prescription count.”

He did it even though he had previously undertaken to comply with all ethical requirements after earlier complaints.

Part of the reason Khun-Khun didn’t get caught earlier is because neither of the two full-time pharmacists working for him did what they were supposed to. The inquiry committee wrote that both of them “turned a blind eye” to what they knew or should have known was wrong.

They knew or should have known that what was happening was wrong since the transactions were done without patients’ consent and were an improper use and access of personal information.

William Wanyang Lu and Jason Wong were both working for Khun-Khun full-time. Both now have letters of reprimand on their permanent registration file and were required to pass both an ethics course and the college’s law exam or face 30-day suspensions.

Yet Wong hasn’t deleted a comment on his LinkedIn profile that while he worked at Shoppers Drug Mart he was “coached with great mentors at this pharmacy including Amandeep Khun-Khun.”

Among the others disciplined recently is Sing Man Tam. He was fined $10,000 and had a reprimand letter put on his permanent record for his “inadequate diligence and oversight” over two years related mainly to dispensing methadone to addicts to quell their cravings and minimize the effects of opioids.

Tam processed prescriptions without authorization. He also didn’t witness its ingestion, which is legally required (and the reason that pharmacists get $17 for dispensing it rather than the usual $10 for other medications).

He billed for methadone that was marked in the logs as having been “missed” and Tam delivered it without authorization by the doctor who wrote the prescription.

For the past several years, the college has received close to 800 complaints, but many of those don’t require any disciplinary action or even a referral to an inquiry committee. Its statistics cover the 12 months from March 1 to the end of February.

And while the most recent fines and suspensions may not seem to add up to much, the college is not always the final arbiter. The courts are.

In March, Richmond pharmacist Jin Tong (Tom) Li was sentenced to a year of house arrest after pleading guilty to one count of obtaining more than $5,000 under a false pretence.

The charge links back to the college’s disciplinary action in 2016 after it found that Li had submitted more than 2,400 fraudulent claims to PharmaCare between 2013 and 2014 that cost the B.C. government $616,000.

Coincidentally, Li’s pharmacy licence was reinstated as a pharmacist in October 2018, having been suspended for 540 days. He is still banned from being a manager, director or pharmacy owner or preceptor until 2023.

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7Aug

Bodies of B.C. homicide suspects found in Manitoba wilderness, ending country-wide manhunt

by admin

The bodies of two B.C. homicide suspects have been found following a police hunt that lasted three weeks and stretched across four provinces.

Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, were found dead in dense brush near the community of Gillam, Manitoba RCMP announced at a news conference on Wednesday.

The bodies were found around 10 a.m. Wednesday, said RCMP Asst. Commissioner Jane MacLatchy. An autopsy has been scheduled to take place in Winnipeg to confirm the identities and cause of death, though police believe the bodies are those of Schmegelsky and McLeod.


Kam McLeod (left) and Bryer Schmegelsky.

The Canadian Press

“We knew that we needed to just find that one critical piece of evidence,” said MacLatchy. “On Friday, Aug. 2, that one critical piece of evidence was found.”

MacLatchy said items linked to the suspects — including an abandoned aluminum boat — were found on the shoreline of the Nelson River on Friday.

That discovery allowed police to narrow down their search area; on Wednesday morning, police located the bodies of the two men about a kilometre from where the items were found, and about eight kilometres from where the suspects’ last known vehicle was found on fire.

The pair, from Port Alberni, B.C., had been in the Manitoba wilderness for two weeks, after the Toyota RAV4 they had been driving was found burned near Gillam on July 22.

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The search in northern Manitoba included helicopters, a plane, heavily armed officers and police canine units that scoured the remote wilderness where the pair, believed to be survivalists, were thought to be hiding.

A dive team and search of the Nelson River was also prompted this past weekend by the discovery of a damaged aluminum boat spotted by aerial search teams.


This is the damaged aluminum boat found by RCMP officers on the shores of the Nelson River during a helicopter search on Friday afternoon near Gillam, Manitoba. The area was the focus for more than a week in the hunt for Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19.

Submitted /

Manitoba RCMP

“To the families of everyone affected by the series of events over the last few weeks, I know it has been so very difficult,” said MacLatchy.

“I hope today’s announcement can begin to bring some closure.

“Many of you lived with uncertainty and fear but throughout, you were resilient, you came together as communities, and you helped our officers get the job done.”

Schmegelsky and McLeod were charged with the second-degree murder in the death of University of B.C. lecturer Leonard Dyck and had also been named as suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese.

The travelling couple were found dead on July 15 on B.C.’s Alaska Highway 97, south of Liard Hot Springs. Their minivan was stranded nearby.


Chynna Noelle Deese and Lucas Robertson Fowler were found dead along the Alaska Highway in northern B.C. on July 15.

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Just four days later, Dyck’s body was found on B.C.’s Highway 37 near Dease Lake, about two kilometres up the road from a burned-out truck. The vehicle was believed to have been driven by Schmegelsky and McLeod at one point.


Leonard Dyck is seen in March of 2017 in Clover Point Park in Victoria.

Patrick Martone/UBC

Various sightings allowed police to track the suspects from B.C. to Saskatchewan and then over to Manitoba, where their latest vehicle, a Toyota RAV4, was found on fire near Gillam in late July.

The last confirmed sighting of the pair was in Meadow Lake, Sask., when the pair were filmed on security camera walking through a store. After police released those images, more than 200 tips poured in over the course of five days.


RCMP search the area near Gillam, Man. in this photo posted to their Twitter page on Friday, July 26, 2019.

HO /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

A volunteer with the Bear Clan Patrol, an Indigenous-led neighbourhood watch group, had also reported a possible sighting of the pair to police on July 28, prompting officers to focus their efforts on York Landing, Sask.

A Canadian Air Force aircraft equipped with high-tech thermal detection gear was also deployed in the search.

 

After the search uncovered no signs of Schmegelsky and McLeod, police scaled down their search in the York Landing and Gillam areas, focusing remaining resources in Gillam.

The end of the manhunt also ends days of living on edge, as police warned residents in the area to lock their doors and be on guard for any sightings of the pair, who were considered dangerous.

MORE TO COME

— With files from The Canadian Press

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2Aug

Ucluelet mystery: Hells Angels behind murder of two sailors 15 months ago

by admin

UCLUELET — The small craft harbour here in this stunning spot on Vancouver Island’s west coast is a hub of activity.

Tourists from all over the world board sport-fishing charters and whale-watching boats to check out the rugged coastline. Commercial fishermen tend to their vessels. And visitors sail in for a day or two on boats based in Vancouver, Victoria or farther away.

But all is quiet on the Astral Blue — a 14-metre sailboat whose last two crewmen mysteriously disappeared in the mid-afternoon of May 16, 2018.

The bodies of Squamish resident Dan Archbald and his close friend Ryan Daley, of Jordan River, were found less than a month later on a rutted decommissioned logging road about 12 kilometres from the harbour.

Fifteen months have passed and no one has been charged with their murders.

But a Postmedia investigation has found that the two men were likely casualties of a botched cocaine-smuggling job that they were recruited to do by a Lower Mainland biker.


The bodies of Daniel Archbald, 37, and Ryan Daley, 43, were found 15 months ago, near Ucluelet.

RCMP /

PNG

RCMP Supt. Sanjaya Wijayakoon, who oversees the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, told Postmedia that the police investigation is still extremely active.

“They are absolutely continuing to investigate both of these deaths. Right now, they are in the process of analyzing physical and digital evidence. They are still speaking to potential witnesses and they are trying to figure out a time line leading up to both Daley and Archbald’s deaths,” Wijayakoon said in a recent interview.

Key to that time line is figuring out what the two men did between their landing here on Sunday, May 13 — Mother’s Day — and when they made a final eerie appearance on the harbour security camera three days later, lugging heavy duffel bags out though the parking lot.

Wijayakoon said investigators still need the public’s help to put together all the pieces of the puzzle.

“I know my guys are still hoping that people in the public are able to come forward and that something triggers their memory and they come and talk to us. We are still hoping for that,” he said.


The 14-metre Astral Blue has been moored at Ucluelet’s small craft harbour since May 13, 2018 when its two crewmen arrived from Panama. Boat owner Dan Archbald and his friend Ryan Daley disappeared three days later and were found murdered in mid-June. of 2018

Kim Bolan /

PNG

The Astral Blue looks much as it did when it arrived here. The deck is strewn with yellow, red and blue plastic containers. There’s a small rusted-out barbecue tipped over near the stern. A rubber dinghy is upside down over the cabin.

Some fibreglass on the starboard side is damaged. There is no indication of anything untoward.

The white and blue sailboat, built in Taiwan in 1979, was registered with Transport Canada on July 25, 2016, listing its home port as Vancouver, despite then never having landed in Canada.

The boat’s owner remains a B.C. company called Astral Ocean Expeditions Inc.

Corporate records obtained by Postmedia show Archbald and a friend registered the company in B.C. on May 10, 2016. Its address is listed as a Richmond lawyer’s office.

The friend, who asked not to be identified, told Postmedia that he owned only a one per cent share of the company and had no direct involvement with the purchase of the Astral Blue.

“Technically, I suppose I’m an owner,” he said, adding that the boat is really owned by Archbald’s widow, who is trying to sell it.

He said he and Archbald had talked for years about running a charter business on the West Coast.

“I am also a sailor and if I had the opportunity to do some trips, it would have been great,” he said. “But it wasn’t meant to be a business I was running.”

He confirmed that as he understood it, the boat was purchased in Ecuador, then moved to Panama where it was moored until Archbald and Daley began their fateful eight-week journey last year.

“I wasn’t even tracking it,” the friend said.

He would have been surprised if Archbald had got mixed up in a drug-smuggling operation, he said, though he admitted that is now the rumour circulating around Squamish and here in Ucluelet.

“I have talked to the police a few times. I didn’t have much to offer them,” he said. “Dan was one of my better friends and I miss him a lot.”

Archbald, a 37-year-old father of two, sometimes worked in construction. And sometimes he worked in the film industry.

Sometimes he was “tight for money,” the friend said, adding that he did not know Daley, a 43-year-old former Squamish resident.

Messages left for several relatives and friends of each man asking for comment for this story were not returned.


The remains of Dan Archbald and Ryan Daley were found in mid-June on E Road, a rutted decommissioned logging road off of the Pacific Rim Highway that is barely more than a trail.

Kim Bolan /

PNG

Postmedia has learned that the pair agreed to sail from Panama to Canada with a load of cocaine, believed to total several hundred kilograms. The person behind the smuggling operation is a full-patch Hells Angel, the sources said.

As the men got closer to the B.C. coast, they encountered a U.S. government vessel and panicked. They dumped most of their illicit cargo overboard.

The problem is that they kept some of the cocaine for themselves without telling the person who hired them. Their plan was to dump it at the last minute if they saw anything suspicious as they approached Ucluelet, the sources said.

While authorities didn’t intercept Archbald and Daley, and the remaining cocaine, when they arrived in Ucluelet, associates of the Hells Angel did.

Postmedia has learned that Hells Angels Chad Wilson — a friend of the person behind the cocaine shipment — was tasked with taking care of “the problem” in Ucluelet. Wilson, who was murdered last November, was on Vancouver Island at the time that Archbald and Daley went missing, sources confirmed.

Wijayakoon, the RCMP superintendent overseeing the investigative team, wouldn’t comment specifically on the information obtained by Postmedia.

“My guys are looking at all avenues and it is very, very active still,” he said.

Retired Mountie Pat Convey is all too familiar with the situation in which Archbald and Daley likely found themselves.

When he was a senior member of the RCMP’s Vancouver Island drug squad, he investigated similar cases along the coast here where drugs were smuggled aboard sailboats and fishing vessels. Organized crime “absolutely” sees marine transportation as a tried and true method to move drugs, Convey said.

The largest bust came in February 2001 when U.S. agents intercepted the Western Wind in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off southern Vancouver Island. The fish boat carried more than two tonnes of cocaine destined for Canada.

Boat owner John “Phil” Stirling and three crewmen were arrested and turned over to the RCMP. But they were never charged despite the record drug haul.

“As far as contraband, it was the biggest,” Convey said of the Western Wind.

Stirling continued to sail in troubled waters for years afterwards.

“He is a pretty infamous old bandit as far as bringing stuff in,” Convey said.

In May 2006, Stirling and four others were arrested again — this time here in Ucluelet — after police found $6.5-million worth of marijuana aboard a 47-metre fish boat registered to Stirling. The men were all charged with drug-related offences, but all counts were later stayed.

The Americans captured the notorious B.C. skipper off the coast of Colombia in 2011. His sailboat carried 381 kilos of cocaine. He pleaded guilty in 2013 in Florida and was sentenced to seven years. Less than a year after his 2018 release, Stirling, now 65, was found alone on another vessel off the coast of Oregon this past April. The boat carried 28 seven-gallon jugs containing liquid methamphetamine. He goes to trial in Portland later this month on drug smuggling charges.

Convey said that once someone agrees to sail a shipment of drugs for organized crime, they are responsible for any loads lost — meaning they usually have to continue transporting the criminal contraband to pay off the debt.

“You will be told that whether you like this or whether you don’t like this, you are going to go do this,” Convey said. “If you don’t comply, your chances of survival are not good.”

Like Archbald, Stirling would register a company in B.C., then purchase a vessel in the company’s name. He once told a Province reporter that the record Western Wind shipment was done for the benefit of some B.C. Hells Angels.

Convey said even people without criminal records are willing to take the risk, hoping for a big payoff. Maybe they think they can get away with it just once.

“There is a lot of money involved,” he said. “Just the investment put into it for purchasing the drugs is a large amount of money. So it is not something where one individual would just go down there and pick up a load and come up here and distribute it. It is all taken care of a long time before they set sail from here as to what they are going to do, what their plan is. And also who is going to be involved along the way.”

Sometimes a relatively small vessel carrying cocaine will sail right into a harbour in a place like Ucluelet, which doesn’t have a Canada Border Services Agency post.

And sometimes it will be a “mother ship” operation “where they will come up and they will be met offshore, right out in the international waters, by off load boats that will come right up and meet them and then distribute (the drugs) to several different places or one place depending on what they contracted,” Convey said.

“I have been out of the game for awhile, but I don’t see anything changing significantly. I got involved in it as far back as the 70s and it didn’t change a lot even in the 2000s when I finally retired.”

Stirling is not the only “bandit” using the open seas to smuggle narcotics into Canada.

In March 2010, Vancouver Island commercial diver Scott Pederson and Mexican citizen Vincente Serrano-Hernandez transported 1,001 one-kilogram bricks of cocaine from Panama to Port Hardy via Ecuador aboard the sailing vessel Huntress. Both were convicted and sentenced to 16 years.

Both have since been released. Parole documents obtained by Postmedia say that Pederson now owns two food carts, which prompted some concern from the parole board in July 2017.

“While there may be some concerns with respect to the idea of a convicted drug importer operating a business that is based primarily in cash and therefore would be a good front for drug trafficking or money laundering, there is no reliable and persuasive information indicating you are involved in any illegal activity,” the board’s written decision said.

As for Hernandez, he continued to deny knowledge of the tonne of cocaine he sailed into B.C. waters, claiming he was “to be paid $2,000 to accompany the lone captain to Canada and that once in Canada you would be offered a job,” the parole board noted in 2016. “In Mexico, you lived in the Sinaloa region which is well known for drug cartel activities. You have denied any involvement with gangs or Mexican cartels.”

He has since been deported.

The drive from the small craft harbour through the Ucluelet-Tofino junction then east along the Pacific Rim Highway to the entrance to E Road takes less than 15 minutes at the posted speed limit.

The killer or killers would have driven through the dense coastal forest, past Lost Shoe #1 Creek, then Lost Shoe #2 Creek before turning right on the gravel road where Archbald and Daley were dumped.

After about 300 metres, the unmarked logging road is barely more than a trail, suggesting the suspects would have had to turn around in the only small clearing to escape back to the highway. A woman walking her dogs found the remains of Archbald and Daley four weeks later.

The double murder — an extremely rare occurrence in this part of B.C. — has not really set the locals on edge. They don’t feel a strong connection to the case. They didn’t know the victims. They don’t believe that any suspects are in their midst.

The last person slain here was Shirley Ann Taylor-Seydel, who was bludgeoned to death on the docks on July 6, 1991 by fisherman Steven Hillairet, a stranger with mental health issues. There is a small picnic area in her memory overlooking the harbour.

The Astral Blue remains moored here for now. A brokerage company has been contacted and the boat, estimated to be worth about $100,000, will soon be sold.

At the Cap’n Hook, a unique shop selling fishing tackle and cappuccino, patrons sip their coffee, look out over the harbour and speculate about whether the boat will go for a bargain price.


Caleb Cameron, who was born and raised in Ucluelet, owns Cameron Ocean Adventures – a whale watching and sports fishing company.He says locals assume that the Astral Blue was smuggling drugs at the time the two crewmen disappeared and were later killed.

Kim Bolan /

PNG

Caleb Cameron, who was born and raised in Ucluelet, is down on the docks every day operating his whale watching and sports fishing company — Cameron Ocean Adventures.

“When the murders happened, it seemed like a very isolated incident. There have been drug busts here in the past but not anything like this,” he said. “It seemed like a major case — a larger case than we usually see — because of all the police resources that were brought here.”

He didn’t see the two men at all between May 13 and 16, though he noticed the Astral Blue after it docked as a boat he wasn’t familiar with.

“It was fairly shocking. From the rumours that had been circulating that it was a drug boat that came up from Panama, it made sense,” he said. “I do have some people come down and ask about it. It is known on the dock as `the drug boat.’”

Ucluelet Mayor Mayco Noël said the murders have had “zero impact” on the community of 1,800.

“There is nobody up and arms, racing to the RCMP detachment saying that there’s a problem. It is something very isolated and local to that event,” Noël said this week. “It is just isolated to those certain groups and those individuals. No one in the community is feeling threatened any way.”

Ucluelet residents still “are just curious to know what happened,” the mayor said.

“Everyone has got their own theory so it will be interesting to see what actually comes out of it.”

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31Jul

VPD asks for help identifying pair connected to serious assault of man in wheelchair

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VPD detectives are asking for the public’s help to identify two people who may have information about a serious assault to a man in a wheelchair in early July.


Handout / VPD

Vancouver police are asking the public for help identifying two people connected to the serious assault of man in a wheelchair earlier this month.

According to police, a 44-year-old Vancouver resident was left with serious injuries after being attacked in the underground parking lot of an apartment building on Cecil Street near Kingsway on July 4.

On Wednesday, police released images of two people captured on a CCTV camera near the scene of the assault. The pair have not been named as suspects, but VPD investigators believe they may have useful information about the incident nevertheless.

“The VPD believes the two individuals in the photos, a man and a woman, may have information about this assault. We are hopeful that the public can assist us in identifying the pair,” said Sgt. Jason Robillard.  

While the images are grainy, the male in the photo is believed to be a white man with a slim build and blonde hair. He was wearing a denim jacket, a shirt with a large “O” on the front, black shorts, black flip flops, and a black baseball hat. The woman, also believed to be Caucasian, has a medium build and orange or blonde hair. She was wearing a black, cropped top, a red jacket, green camouflage-print capri pants, and sandals.

Anyone who may recognize the couple in the photos is asked to call the VPD.

31Jul

Surrey Mounties seeking suspect in attempted Newton-area robbery

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Mounties in Surrey are searching for the suspect in an armed robbery that occurred Tuesday night in the Newton area.


Jason Payne / PNG

Mounties in Surrey are searching for the suspect in an armed robbery that occurred Tuesday night in the Newton area.

According to Surrey RCMP, police were alerted just after 10 p.m. to an attempted robbery in progress outside a residence in the 6800 block of 148 Street.

According to reports, a young man “was in possession of a possible firearm, and demanding personal items from an adult victim,” police said in a news release.

The suspect, described as a thin, white male between 20-25 years old with brown hair, fled the scene prior to Mounties’ arrival.

Police may have arrived at the scene sooner but in responding to the incident, two police vehicles were involved in a collision at the intersection of 72 Avenue and 140 Street. The drivers of both vehicles were taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries.

Surrey RCMP are investigating the robbery as well as the ensuing crash, and are appealing to the public for witnesses who may have useful information or video footage.

Anyone with further information about the attempted robbery, or that may have CCTV footage of the suspect, is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP.

24Jul

Port Alberni rocked by national manhunt for local teens after first believing the pair was lost in the bush

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PORT ALBERNI — The blue sky and lush greenery surrounding the chalet-style home across the street from beautiful Sproat Lake belied the pain, confusion and fear that must have been felt by the people inside.

It’s the home of 19-year-old Kam McLeod, who with his friend, 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky, is the subject of a manhunt that has now moved to remote northeastern Manitoba, almost 3,000 kilometres from where the bodies of two tourists were found on July 15 that sparked a Canada-wide search.

Set in an idyllic, rural and recreational setting, Sproat Lake is a 20-minute drive from central Port Alberni.

Inside the home were McLeod’s parents and, judging by the number of vehicles parked outside the home, supportive family and friends. Phone calls to Keith McLeod, Kam’s dad, went unanswered and private-property signs warned unwanted visitors to stay away.


CP-Web. Alan Schmegelsky, father of Bryer Schmegelsky, poses for a photo.

Laura Kane /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Keith McLeod had earlier issued a statement saying the family felt trapped in their home, worried about their son, trying to wrap their heads around the head-spinning developments of the past three days, and praying Kam would come home safely.

Even the FBI had visited, according to a friend of the McLeods, who asked not to be identified — 24-year-old Chynna Deese of North Carolina and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Lucas Fowler of Australia, were the first two victims of murder the RCMP have said two Port Alberni teens are wanted for.

A third victim was identified by police on Wednesday as Leonard Dyck of Vancouver. Police have formally charged the Port Alberni duo with his second-degree murder.

Related

Phone calls to the home of Caroline Starkey, maternal grandmother to Schmegelsky and with whom the teen had been living for the past two years, went unanswered.

Three passing vehicles slowed down to look menacingly at a Postmedia reporter and photographer. “Leave them alone!” one elderly man who had stopped his pickup truck yelled.

“Everybody I’ve talked to is in shock,” said Susie Quinn, editor of the Alberni Valley News. “This went from being two kids who were missing, to overnight being suspects in three deaths, that’s the sense I get.”


Security camera images recorded in Saskatchewan of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are displayed as RCMP Sgt. Janelle Shoihet speaks during a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on July 23, 2019.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

A street poll of residents showed a community unsure of what to say or how to feel until the ordeal plays itself out.

“It could happen anywhere,” a cashier who said McLeod’s parents are regular customers said.

“They seem like nice people,” added her colleague. “I don’t know anything about their son.”

Employees at the high school the two attended (Alberni District Secondary), at School District 70 headquarters, and at Walmart (where the two boys briefly worked) had all been instructed to say nothing.

One waitress downtown said she had known Kam McLeod, but hadn’t seen him in at least two years.

“I remember him as a nice kid,” she said. “I’m shocked.”

Added a customer inside a fast-food-joint: “What can you do? I’m just glad they didn’t do it here.”

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1Jul

Ian Mulgrew: Legal costs dwarf police misconduct award

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Those old enough will remember the Whalley Strip’s infamous Dell Hotel — a violent, unruly dump the cops frequently attended, but only in pairs, at a minimum.

Once, Michael Kwok Shuen Fong hoped to turn it into a gold mine, but his incompetence, mental health and animosity toward police produced only a tragedy.

The final chapter of his sad Surrey saga may have been written by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Murray Blok in a sympathetic costs decision that ended 13 years of litigation over an altercation with RCMP officers.

Surprisingly, the justice gave Fong twice as much to cover his costs for mounting the legal fight as he did for the minor injuries he suffered.

Blok awarded Fong only $71,000 in damages for the “hard takedown” by the Mounties, which left him dazed and bleeding, and for his brief unlawful arrest.

He had been seeking $1.3 million for near-complete disability!

The trial lasted 18 days and Fong wanted another roughly $170,000 for his costs — $69,000 in tariff items and $100,000 in disbursements.

The B.C. justice ministry, which offered to settle for $25,000, asked Blok to reduce the bill because much of the money spent on experts turned out to be wasted.

None of the evidence from the five medical specialists was accepted, the government argued because Fong misled them, and an economist’s report was disregarded.

Also, Fong claimed police beat him with a baton while repeatedly shouting racist and homophobic slurs — none of which proved true.

“Although I found that Mr. Fong was not a credible witness, I do not conclude he was lying to the court,” Blok explained. “I also do not conclude that Mr. Fong’s failure to tell physicians and experts about other negative events in his life was a deliberate scheme on his part to enhance his personal injury claim or that he displayed ‘a light regard for the truth.’”

Fong attributed all of his subsequent misery to the March 11, 2006 dust-up. However, Blok concluded several setbacks in his life triggered an “existential problem” that “altered his perception of his work identity.”

“These problems would have occurred even if the police incident had not taken place,” Blok decided.

The justice recited the events that dogged Fong after his bloody encounter with police — he lost his hotel management job, developed a crack cocaine habit, squandered $800,000 of his family’s money in a bad investment, and descended into depression.

Now in his 60s, Blok recounted, Fong worked in real estate from 1986 to 1999 before losing that job.

From 1999 to 2002, he managed the Byrd Pub in the Flamingo Hotel, then moved to the Dell.

In July 2005, Fong’s extended family partnered with another man and bought the business. Fong was not a shareholder, but had powers of attorney from his parents and controlled their 49 per cent.

The Dell was rechristened the Oasis Hotel and Fong became general manager.

He accelerated its nose-dive.

Although he disputed it, Fong appeared to bear a grudge against the RCMP because of the way it handled an investigation into $90,000 of missing cash and liquor while he was at the Byrd Pub.

In February 2006, the animosity erupted at a Chinese New Year party for about 20 of his employees and spouses.

Four officers arrived and wanted to know why so many people were still drinking after hours?

A seriously impaired Fong allegedly told them to either “give me a ticket or you f— off out of here. Happy Chinese New Year.”

His friends restrained him.

A month later, several officers arrived at the Oasis to confront a boisterous drunken crowd and demanded to see the hotel’s liquor licence.

During the visit, Fong was manhandled, knocked to the ground, and ended up bruised and bleeding. He was briefly handcuffed.

Several months later, in October, the hotel was shut for health and safety violations because of Fong’s “manifest incompetence.”

He was fired and the hotel sold in late 2006 or early 2007, Blok said.

Fong found a low-level job as a doorman at a Chilliwack hotel, but soon lost it due to his addiction and personal collapse.

In 2009, he was granted WCB benefits for a left shoulder injury and depression, and accepted for a CPP disability pension.

Unfortunately, the following year, Fong squandered $800,000 of his family’s money.

In March 2015, after a court rejected his suit over the investment loss, Fong attempted suicide.

He worked part-time briefly in 2017 and thought about returning to the hospitality industry, but Blok said, “he feels the RCMP would not leave him alone if he did.”

The case was no different than any other personal injury case where some of the injuries or damages claimed have not been proven, Blok maintained.

Although Fong won less than half the amount claimed as costs, the justice said that did not make the award nominal:

“As to the alleged misconduct on the part of (Fong), while he undoubtedly has some personality issues which affected his view of events, he did not proffer his evidence in order to hoodwink the court. His version of events might not have been accepted, but he should not be punished for seeing things as he does.”

The total Fong will receive for costs remains to be determined as the ministry wants them assessed.

“That is another two- to three-day process, and it is a Registrar who will ultimately determine how much the final amount will be,” Fong’s lawyer Paul Kent-Snowsell said.

“It was (and remains) tough slogging given the continued intransigence of the defendants. … I suppose they are trying to show other potential litigants that it will be a fight the whole way — at least, that is my perception.”

The government’s lawyer declined to comment.

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