July 26, 2013 - 6:00 PM
PENTICTON - A suspended RCMP officer was found not guilty of perjury on Friday in Penticton Supreme Court.
Justice Bruce Butler acquitted Cpl. Andre Turcotte of the charge as he was left in a reasonable doubt as to the accused's guilt.
The events leading to the verdict started on Nov. 29, 2007 when Turcotte assaulted Ian Scott Campbell in Summerland while he was off duty. The officer was convicted of that assault in 2010, given a 60-day conditional sentence and a year's probation. He eventually returned to active duty. The matter was over but Turcotte made a statement during the assault trial which came back to bite him.
On Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Bill Hilderman said Turcotte claimed in the assault trial to be the watch commander at the Penticton RCMP detachment the day Campbell came in to be fingerprinted on an unrelated matter. Campbell had earlier been caught driving when ordered by the court not to do so and was sent for fingerprinting.
Campbell told police he visited the station on Feb. 18, 2008. There is no record of Turcotte being the daytime watch commander on Feb. 18.
The accused said he must have seen Campbell at the front desk at an earlier date. Turcotte said he could not process Campbell when he saw him at the front desk as he was the complainant in Turcotte's assault case. Turcotte said he could not remember the exact day he attended the station.
Hilderman said Turcotte lying about being watch commander when Campbell visited is tied to several computer searches Turcotte conducted on Campbell. The Crown accused Turcotte of digging for dirt on Campbell to help with his assault case.
Butler said the computer searches were odd but there's no proof Turcotte conducted them for personal gain. The officer said he did the record searches for professional reasons.
Defence lawyer Jack Harris said the Crown used Campbell as its only witness - Hilderman did not call other officers or front desk staff to testify. For a perjury charge to stick there needs to be corroborating witnesses and evidence.
Butler called this a complicated case, but in the end he could not see why Turcotte would knowingly lie to the courts. The justice said there remains the possibility Turcotte did see Campbell in the detachment earlier than Feb. 18.
The justice also considered the testimony from each of the two men. The officer answered each question without hesitation. His statements also matched similar statements he made in the 2010 assault trial. Campbell on the other hand was disrespectful of the courts and admitted he had trouble remembering dates.
In the end the justice ruled he was left in reasonable doubt and found the officer not guilty.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013