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Although hit by one shot from would-be assassins who opened fire as he returned to his family home three years ago, James Bacon managed to retaliate with a Glock handgun later found in a secret compartment of his nearby Chevrolet Suburban.

That incident - in which Mr. Bacon survived thanks to body armour - was part of a ruling on Thursday by Provincial Court Judge Jean Lytwyn, who found Mr. Bacon guilty of 10 firearms offences. She also found him guilty of possession of oxycodone; a pouch containing 108 pills was found on him when he was arrested.

Central to the case was a secret compartment packed with firearms that was under the centre console of the Suburban, parked in the garage of the family's Surrey home. The vehicle was associated largely with James Bacon.

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"The only rational conclusion that can be drawn from all the circumstances is that James Bacon knew of the secret compartment, knew how to access it, knew its importance to secrete illegal weapons, and had control not only over the Glock Model 23 but over all of the items in the secret compartment," the judge told the court, referring to her 32-page ruling.

That decision spells new legal trouble for Mr. Bacon, co-accused in the 2007 Surrey Six incident in which six men - two of them innocent bystanders - were found shot dead in a Surrey high-rise, amid a wave of gang violence then ravaging the Lower Mainland.

At the same time Thursday, Judge Lytwyn acquitted Mr. Bacon's brother, Jarrod, of firearms charges in the case, suggesting there was insufficient evidence to convict him.

The two brothers, who wore matching orange prison garb and sat in prisoners' boxes on either side of the courtroom, smiled and nodded to each other as the judge finished her ruling, capping an eight-month trial.

James Bacon remains in custody pending sentencing. As a result of the Surrey Six allegations, Jarrod Bacon is facing unrelated drug charges, and also remains in custody.

Their parents, Susan and David, who have previously attended hearings during the trial, were not present for the ruling.

Neil MacKenzie, a Crown spokesman, took note of James Bacon's conviction on "very serious" charges.

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"With respect to Jarrod, we respect the court's decision," he told reporters outside the court. "Obviously, as [the judge's decision]sets out, she was not prepared to draw the inferences the Crown sought with respect to Jarrod."

Mr. MacKenzie said it was too soon to comment on the possibility of an appeal in the Jarrod Bacon ruling. Asked about sentencing for James, he noted that there is a mandatory minimum one-year sentence on most of the charges.

James Bacon's lawyer was not in court for the verdict.

Outside court, Jarrod Bacon's lawyer, Mark Jette, declined to speak specifically about his client's reaction. "I'm pleased with the result," he said. "You always are when you work hard and win a case."

The day after the shooting attack of April 13, 2007, police found what Judge Lytwyn described as a "sophisticated" secret compartment in the Suburban. The compartment, under the cup-holder in the centre console, contained four semi-automatic guns, a prohibited pistol magazine and four other loaded pistol magazines.

The Crown alleged that James Bacon and Jarrod Bacon had personal and joint possession of the items in the compartment of the Suburban, which was actually owned by Dennis Karbovanec, who has entered guilty pleas in the Surrey Six case. Mr. Karbovanec did not testify in the trial.

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Judge Lytwyn concluded there was enough fingerprint and DNA evidence to confirm James Bacon must have known about the compartment and the weapons inside. She said the evidence against him includes his use of the Suburban over an extended period of time, his return of gunfire using a Glock found later in the compartment, and a thumbprint found in the compartment.

Someone, she said, put the Glock used by James Bacon into the secret compartment within minutes of the shots fired on him, with the Crown suggesting it was one of two other men - another brother, Jonathan, or the father, David.

But she said the issue was not important.

"What matters is that within minutes of James Bacon being shot at and firing the Glock Model 23, someone placed it in a secret compartment which contained a number of other weapons and loaded pistol magazines and which was in the Chevrolet Suburban, a vehicle frequently driven by James Bacon," she said.

Mr. Bacon was in his Corvette when the attack started, but the Glock was found in the nearby Suburban. Judge Lytwyn said the "only rational conclusion" from the speed with which the Glock was moved between the vehicles is that James Bacon had knowledge of, consented to and directed the movement.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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