Judge wants pace of Kamloops murder case to speed up

Troy Gold’s remains were found in the Lac du Bois area north of Kamloops weeks after he was reported missing in October 2018. Last fall, five men were charged with second-degree murder in connection with his death.

A judge urged prosecutors on Monday to pick up the pace in the case against five men charged with murder in the gang-related 2018 slaying of a Kamloops man.

Troy Gold’s remains were found in the Lac du Bois area north of Kamloops weeks after he was reported missing in October 2018. Last fall, five men were charged with second-degree murder in connection with his death.

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Crown prosecutor Sarah Firestone told court in January that the case against the men would proceed by direct indictment — a legal move typically reserved for the most serious and complicated criminal cases, which denies the accused the right to a preliminary inquiry and instead sends them straight to trial in B.C. Supreme Court.

In court on Monday, Firestone said direct indictment has not yet been approved.

Gold, 35, was reported missing in early October of 2018. His remains were found weeks later in the Lac du Bois area north of Batchelor Heights.

Last fall, police arrested five men in connection with the slaying. Nathan Townsend, Jayden Eustache, Darian Rohel, John Daviss and Sean Scurt are each charged with second-degree murder.

All of the accused have been in custody since their arrests.

Preliminary inquiries are hearings at which prosecutors typically present a bare-bones version of their case, after which a judge decides whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. Direct indictments are sometimes approved in cases that are extremely complex or reliant on extensive wire tap evidence. Direct indictment requires approval from the office of B.C.’s attorney general and regional Crown counsel.

In Kamloops provincial court on Monday, Firestone said she has not yet received that approval.

“I am extremely hopeful,” she said. “I have had discussions with both regional Crown counsel and the deputy attorney general.”

Defence lawyers representing the five accused expressed concern about delay.

“I expressed concern about the delay in this case even before COVID hit,” said Shelley Sugarman, who represents Daviss.

Kamloops provincial court Judge Stephen Harrison told Firestone to speed up the process, but granted her request to adjourn the file to July 20 to give her more time to seek approval.

“It needs to be done — and it should be done sooner rather than later,” he said. “I have urged Ms. Firestone to ensure that her superiors are aware that the court expects it will be known that this matter will be proceeding, one way or another, on or before July 20.”

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