September 10, 2014 - 6:23 AM
KAMLOOPS – A now-retired RCMP corporal took the stand in Kamloops Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon to describe one of his last investigations—of his friends and co-workers accused of breaching trust as a police officer.
Several officers chose to watch two drunk female prisoners have sex rather than intervene in the early morning hours of August 18, 2010. When rumour around the downtown RCMP detachment spread quickly, Cpl. Duncan Hewitt was told by then Insp. Yves Lacasse it would be his job to figure out what happened that night. In over 25 years of police service, Hewitt said the case is unlike any he's ever seen before.
Kenneth Peter “Rick” Brown is charged with breach of trust after seven staff members, including himself as acting watch commander, watched the two women via live video footage. The women cannot be named by court order.
Hewitt reviewed the tapes and now, four years later, described what happened as the video played in open court. He described how the the first woman was removed from the police cruiser in the garage and escorted down the hallway to a cell. As she walked the hall, Hewitt said the woman’s white pants fell down and came off. He said she appeared intoxicated.
He pointed out officers Evan Elgee, Stephen Zaharia and Brown on the tapes. Not all were escorting her, but each walked through the main area leading to the garage. Once the woman was put into the cell, her handcuffs were removed.
“She appears naked from the waist down with (the) pants on top of her,” Hewitt said. He will continue with his evidence tomorrow.
His description while the video plays was needed in part because, as Hewitt said, the video quality was “poor at best.” The recordings were a combination of hard drive files and VHS tapes.
“It’s a good thing they weren’t beta,” said Justice Selwyn Romilly.
Earlier in the day, both crown and defence counsel made opening statements to begin the trial. Defence counsel Glen Orris said it was an “extremely busy morning” at the detachment and cells were “severely overcrowded.” He said due to the amount of people, the two women were placed together in a drunk tank.
“Ironically it is the male drunk tank,” Orris said.
The overcrowding led to one particularly troublesome prisoner being placed in the women’s drunk tank for solitary confinement. Orris said Brown, concerned about the level of prisoners, asked his staff to “make sure the (women) weren’t hurting each other.”
Sayson said once the two women were together in the cell, the two started conversing, hugging and touching one another then became sexual. He said the women began to kiss, engage in oral sex, digital penetration and fisting.
While this occurred, Sayson alleges Brown watched and encouraged other staff members to gather around the video monitor.
“You’ve got to see this... Brownie says you’ve got to see this,” said Sayson, paraphrasing one of the staff members. According to Sayson, Brown’s nickname around work was “Brownie.”
"One of the women was self-declared HIV positive," Sayson said.
Sayson said the women had sex for roughly half an hour, ending around 4:15 a.m. In that period, none of the seven officers watching intervened, which Sayson said was a breach of trust. Among those seven men were Consts. Elgee and Zaharia. Both originally faced the same charge as Brown, but charges were later dropped.
David Tompkins, a jail guard who was working that night pleaded guilty last year and received a one-year probationary sentence.
The trial is expected to last three weeks. In his opening remarks, Orris said he plans to question the process of determining how Brown breached trust. He said there was no written guideline for what he should have done as watch commander in the circumstance he found himself in at the time of the incident.
Sayson and fellow prosecutor Jas Gahunia plan to call 17 witnesses, most of whom are Kamloops RCMP officers. Hewitt is expected to continue with his video evidence and commentary tomorrow.
Brown is not in custody.
To contact a reporter for this story, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014