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Dog, phone alerted neighbours to 2010 Pembroke Street shooting, court hears

Oct 18 2012

In the early hours of March 3, 2010, Jonathan Burnett returned to his Pembroke Street apartment with a terrified look on his face, former girlfriend Lauren Bierd testified Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court.

"I locked the door," Bierd said. "He said there was a person outside with a rifle."

Bierd was testifying at the second-degree murder trial of Andrew Belcourt and Samuel Mcgrath. The accused have pleaded guilty to robbery with a firearm and breaking into the Pembroke Street apartment of Leslie Hankel, a 52-yearold man with mental-health issues.

The issue the jury must decide is whether Belcourt and Mcgrath are guilty of the second-degree murder of Hankel, who died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Bierd testified she was just dropping off to sleep about 12: 40 a.m. when her usually quiet dog started to bark. Then Burnett's cellphone started to ring. He missed the first four rings, but answered it when it started to ring again.

"He got up in a rushed manner and went to the door," Bierd said. "I followed him very shortly after."

After seeing a man with a rifle, Burnett came back into the apartment for about a minute and a half, Bierd testified. Then Burnett went out again. She put on her shoes and followed him.

They were both standing at the side of the building, she recalled.

Burnett was clearly upset. He was yelling and looking to see if he could see anybody.

"We made our way back to the front of the building and realized the front door of suite number one was open. We realized there was stuff strewn all over the apartment. The books were off the bookshelf," Bierd testified.

She followed Burnett to the back of Hankel's apartment.

"I was screaming for Les. I was upset something might have happened to him," she said.

They found Hankel in the back bedroom, Bierd said.

"I turned and went back to the apartment and grabbed my cell-phone to call 911," she said.

She did not hear any loud bang coming from the apartment building that night, she told prosecutor Patrick Weir.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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