Suffering heroin withdrawal and coming down from a drug high, a sick Garry Shank sat in a Cranbrook jail and contemplated whether to hang himself.
The self-described “scumbag” fleeing parole had just been arrested by RCMP late in October 2009, in possession of an assault rifle. He was headed back to federal jail, sent there after a tip from an informant to police, who knew where he was.
The only people who were supposed to know Shank and his partner had just arrived in Cranbrook were three men, plus their boss in the local drug trade, who had driven them there from Calgary in order to kill a rival.
Someone had turned him in.
At 30 years old, Shank testified he’d spent more than half his life doing crimes or in jail. He never worked at a legitimate job.
“At that point I had a breakdown,” Shank testified Friday in the witness box in the murder conspiracy trial of Lonnie Adams, Lorne Carry and Colin Correia.
“I said I was looking to talk to someone. I was crying, having a full-time breakdown. I was so ready to be done with this life.”
Shank said he believed one of the three men on trial or Chad Munroe, who had been recently shot in Cranbrook by the rival drug group, had turned him in to police.
“I toyed with the idea of hanging himself,” he said in answers to questions from Crown prosecutor Ann Katrine Saettler.
“I toyed with all kinds of ideas. One that seemed the most reasonable was to work with the police.”
Shank was soon talking with RCMP from the B.C. gang unit, both while in Cranbrook cells and after he was returned to Kent penitentiary.
For the third day, Shank recounted his life of crime, agreement to kill Doug Mahon and then conversion to a police agent. The key Crown witness is heavily tattooed on the face, his shirt and tie appearing to obscure other tattoos that snake up his neck.
Five months after his jailhouse breakdown, Shank signed an RCMP contract, agreeing to become an agent. This, he explained on the stand, was far more than an informant, who is paid a maximum of $200 at a time for information.
As an agent, Shank would wear a recording device and be directed by RCMP “handlers” on a day-to-day basis.
The initial reward offering was $25,000, half paid upon completion of the investigation and the other half on conclusion of any trials. He would also be paid an income of $1,000 a week during the investigation.
“I’d dedicated my whole life to being a scumbag,” Shank said. “For 17 years…I’d literally done this full time. To do this I was throwing it all away — every family member and friend I had would be gone with this decision.”
Shank — who started the KRCC riot in 2005 by knocking out a guard with a kettle and starting a fire in the cell block — acknowledged for most of his life he viewed police with “hate.”
Even as he was talking with police on a daily basis before signing on to become an agent, however, Shank admitted to dealing drugs in Cranbrook.
He also told Correia, who supplied him with cocaine to sell, that he was terminally ill from colon cancer — a lie he testified he’d used before with authorities, or any time he wanted to get out of a job.
RCMP were forced to keep with that story of cancer. In order to explain to Correia Shank’s absence from Cranbrook, RCMP made a fake arrest booking in Kelowna and also gave Shank an extensive tour of Kelowna General Hospital’s cancer centre.
They also gave him $2,000 to pay back Correia, after he’d spent the money he was supposed to give back to the Cranbrook drug dealer after selling an ounce of cocaine.
After the contract signing in March 2010, Shank undertook his first “scenario” — talking again with Correia and Carry about killing Mahon.
Unlike five months earlier, this time Shank was working for police and wore a recording device. He testified they discussed at Carry’s home them paying him $10,000 to kill Mahon.
“We wouldn’t need to talk about this again,” Shank said of his discussions with Correia and Carry. “We knew our roles.”
The trial is expected to last three months.