A Surrey killer was ultimately foiled by cops in Merritt who suspected he was underage in a town bar.
Johnny Steven Drynock’s lawyers argued unsuccessfully that his Charter rights had been breached but a judge ruled against this on the eve of his first-degree murder trial into the March 13, 2017 shooting death of Birinderjeet Singh Bhangu in Surrey.
The judge-only trial was set to begin July 3 but Drynock instead pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter using a firearm on the opening day and was sentenced on July 4 to 10 years and nine months in prison.
Bhanghu was shot dead in broad daylight while sitting in an Acura MDX parked outside the Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel on Fraser Highway.
Drynock was arrested in April 2018 by the Merritt RCMP following a routine bar check at the Coldwater Hotel, and when they searched him officers found a loaded handgun, a knife and a pool ball wrapped in a handkerchief.
His legal team argued unsuccessfully that his Charter rights had been breached.
“The arrest of Drynock in the bar had no connection to the murder investigation,” Justice Frits Verhoeven noted in his reasons for judgment. “Neither officer was aware that IHIT was interested in finding him, nor that he could be a suspect in a murder.”
The court heard the constables thought Drynock, 24, and his brother looked “underage, and nervous.” When one of the officers asked Drynock for his ID, he ran. The cop tackled him down and arrested him for obstruction.
Drynock was taken to the police cells, where the arresting officer was alerted to the IHIT bulletin out of Surrey in the Bhangu homicide.