Fugitive ex-soldier accused in Thai murder dies in plane crash

Trail resident Gene Karl Lahrkamp, 36, has been on the run since February when Royal Thai Police alleged he and co-accused Matthew Dupre, 36, had travelled to the island of Phuket to kill former Abbotsford gangster Jimi Sandhu.

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Two B.C. men facing murder and conspiracy charges in gang-linked violence were among four people who died in northwestern Ontario when a small plane crashed there last week.

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Trail resident Gene Karl Lahrkamp, 36, has been on the run since February when Royal Thai Police alleged he and co-accused Matthew Dupre, 36, travelled to Thailand to kill former Abbotsford resident and United Nations gangster Jimi Sandhu. Both are ex-Canadian military.

Dupre was arrested on Feb. 20 in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, and remains in jail pending an extradition hearing. But Lahrkamp had remained elusive until his body was among those recovered April 30 at the crash site near Sioux Lookout, Ontario.

Also on the four-seater Piper PA 28-140 plane was Kamloops resident Duncan Bailey, 37, who is linked to the Independent Soldiers gang. He was out on bail on a conspiracy to commit murder charge related to a Vancouver shooting on Oct. 6, 2020.

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The Ontario Provincial Police is conducting a criminal investigation into the mysterious flight, while the Transportation Safety Board also has a probe into why the plane went down.

OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson said the pilot was also a B.C. resident – 26-year-old Abhinav Handa, of Richmond. But he said he couldn’t release the identity of the fourth victim as family members had not yet been located and notified.

TSB official Eric Vermette said in an interview that the small plane left Dryden, Ontario at 9:09 p.m. central time on April 29, headed for Marathon, Ontario, about 700 kilometres away.

After a report about the plane being overdue, a search was conducted. The crash site was found about 7:45 a.m. the next morning.

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Vermette said that where the privately-owned plane was based and whether there were additional stops planned is all part of the TSB investigation.

Neither the plane’s registration letters nor Handa’s name show up in Transport Canada’s aircraft ownership database.

“We did send two investigators to the site of the airplane crash. They’re now back in Winnipeg and we continue to gather data and to assess the occurrence,” Vermette said. “Whenever we do an investigation, we look at maintenance records of the aircraft ensuring that the pilots are qualified and trained to fly that aircraft.”

He said the small Piper plane is normally used as a personal aircraft or for flight training.

So how did an alleged B.C. hitman end up on a plane in northwestern Ontario with a Kamloops gangster accused in a Vancouver murder plot?

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B.C.’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit already has an ongoing investigation into possible crimes committed in Canada related to the Feb. 5 murder of Sandhu in Thailand.

Just last week, CFSEU and the BOLO – Be On the Lookout – program announced $100,000 reward for information leading to Lahrkamp’s arrest.

“As a result of his death, the CFSEU-B.C. has contacted the BOLO program and advised international and domestic law enforcement partners,” Sgt. Brenda Winpenny said Tuesday.

Bailey was charged last November with plotting to kill Mir Asif Hussain 13 months earlier. Hussain was leaving a west side pub with his wife and children when he was shot on Oct. 6, 2020.

Hussain survived the murder attempt but was killed on May 22, 2021.

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Bailey was released on bail in the case and was due back in B.C. Supreme Court in September for his next appearance.

According to a civil forfeiture case filed against Bailey and former Kamloops resident Sheldon Viney last November, Vancouver Police seized almost $400,000 in Okotoks, Alberta that was allegedly payment for the 2020 Hussain shooting.

The cash was seized on Dec.16, 2020 at Viney’s residence.

“During the investigation, D. Bailey and S. Viney were identified as conspirators in the murder plot,” the lawsuit alleged. “The VPD located a series of text messages, that included photos of a bag with a large amount of Canadian currency. The messages indicate the currency is payment in the murder plot.”

Viney has not been charged criminally and filed a statement of defence denying the allegations and saying the seized cash was his and was obtained legally.

More to come…

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