Murder re-trial begins with recorded confession from accused
By Glynn Brothen
(JENNIFER STAHN / iNFOnews.ca)
November 12, 2014 - 6:23 PM
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KAMLOOPS – The re-trial for a Kamloops man accused of beating his girlfriend to death began in Kamloops Supreme Court Wednesday afternoon with a confession he allegedly made to an undercover police officer posing as a crime boss.
In 2007, Robert Donald Balbar met with several undercover police officers for nearly three months in an RCMP arranged “Mr. Big” investigation. The purpose of the investigation was to convince Balbar he was joining a criminal organization. To earn the trust of the organization’s boss, Balbar was asked to confess what happened between him and Heather Hamill, his girlfriend whose murder was unsolved since her death in 2003.
“What we talk about right now stays between you and I,” said the boss in a hotel room in Kelowna where the interview was recorded. The undercover officer, who cannot be named under a mandatory publication ban, told Balbar he needed to trust him before initiating him in his crew.
“She snapped,” Balbar said. “(She) grabbed a machete and was waving it around... I clunked her upside the head with a hammer.”
Throughout the tape, Balbar alleged Hamill was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, but said he was relatively sober when he bludgeoned her with three different tools from his kit: A hammer, a mallet and a sledge hammer.
“(I hit her) repeatedly for quite a while... fifty or sixty times or something,” he said.
Balbar said after he hit her, Hamill tried to leave and call the cops. He said he wanted to leave the apartment with his son who was sleeping in the other room.
“She didn’t want to go that route,” Balbar said.
The boss asked Balbar if the RCMP had any idea about Balbar’s relation to the murder.
“The pigs had the place under surveillance for quite a long time,” Balbar said. He added he heard “through the grapevine” that police had no leads.
“There’s no evidence,” Balbar said.
The boss asked Balbar what he did to prevent Hamill’s blood from spreading in the one-bedroom apartment.
“That’s why I used a hammer,” Balbar replied. “Kept (the blood) to a minimum.”
He said before Hamill bled heavily, he placed her body in a cooler.
Balbar’s re-trial on second degree murder charges is the first trial in Canada to take place after a Supreme Court of Canada decision which tightened restrictions on admissibility of Mr. Big evidence.
Before the trial began, Justice Elizabeth Arnold-Bailey reminded the jury made up of five women and seven men to consider all evidence and remember a confession may not always be the truth of what happened.
Balbar was convicted on murder charges in 2009. He successfully appealed the case, arguing the judge erred in her directions to the jury and did not provide him with the opportunity for an acquittal or conviction of a lesser sentence.
Crown expects to hear evidence from another undercover officer, the jogger who found Hamill’s body, the diver who retrieved it, a pathologist, Hamill’s family members and her best friend.
The hour-long video of Balbar’s confession to the crime boss is set to conclude Thursday morning.
-This story was edited to correct the middle name of the accused.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-319-7494. To contact an editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014