January 18, 2013 - 4:00 PM
A tangled web of love, deceit and retribution has been detailed and unraveled by a judge in Salmon Arm Supreme Court.
The man at the centre of the case is Keith Chancellor, a realtor and operator of Century 21 in that city. He was charged with criminal harassment of his ex-wife and her lover and was also accused of counselling his employee to assault the lover in 2008. But according to Justice Dev Dley, it wasn't quite as it seemed and while Chancellor was found not guilty of all charges, the judgment posted last week exposed the steep decline of the marriage and the aftermath that ensued.
Chancellor faced a host of allegations from Shannon Chancellor, his ex-wife and Steve Simmons who came on the scene two years earlier when he did stucco work for the family, then did more work for Shannon. They later began a relationship and now have a child together.
The Crown tendered multiple unflattering emails from Keith to Shannon and then included a host of other allegations. Shannon described numerous times when her husband was physically rough, saying he once kicked her and once threw a "small cardboard box" at her. She also said she suffered emotional harm "because Mr. Chancellor had said to her that the worst thing he had done was to marry her."
In 2008, the Chancellors split up, though it appears they were not legally divorced. Shannon remained at the house with their two kids and later with "Stucco Steve" as Keith called him. Keith wasn't happy about this. In one email, he said "And if you think I'm upset about my property, wait until some other guy starts dealing with my kids. I feel sorry for that fool!! One person lays a hand on my children, it'll be worth their life."
Later he wrote an email to Simmons' ex-wife, Keith said, "I thought Steve was some kind of proper Christian. So far as I can see he's broken the 6th and 7th commandments, 'thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's possessions.... Do you know how embarrassing it is for me to have my wife walking around town pregnant with another man's baby while we are still married?"
But the trouble didn't end there. Simmons and Shannon were later visited by Todd Grayston, who had just been fired by Chancellor. He told Simmons and Shannon that Keith asked him to "get rid of" Simmons.
Sounds like a lot of intrigue but Dley was having none of it. In finding him not guilty of all charges, he said Grayston made these claims "in order to make life difficult for Mr. Chancellor. I conclude that the motive was to damage Mr. Chancellor's character and assist Mr. Grayston in his recruiting of (Chancellor's) office personnel."
Dley also wasn't convinced Shannon Chancellor had anything to fear at all, saying she was only trying to bolster her claims in divorce court. When she told the court about Keith kicking her "it was described as a purely unprovoked kick in the stomach; that turns out not to be the case."
Only when she was cross-examined did she explain that the "kick" happened as he was startled awake by a pillow she threw at him. There was no evidence she was harmed by the event.
"I infer from the exaggerations and attempts to paint Mr. Chancellor in the bleakest terms that Ms. Chancellor's evidence is not reliable. Part of the motivation for the inaccurate testimony is likely related to gaining an advantage in the dispute with respect to assets and access. The criminal courts are not to be used as an instrument to leverage such proceedings," Dley wrote.
Finally, Dley had few flattering things to say about Steve Simmons whose evidence he called "exaggerated, dramatic and simply not believable."
Simmons told the court he feared for his life every day since Keith made his veiled threats. Despite feeling his "life was hanging in the balance," he opted to hand deliver a card to Keith from Shannon informing Keith that she was pregnant with Steve's baby. Keith and Shannon were still legally married at the time.
"Mr. Simmons' demeanour was such that it showed him to exaggerate evidence to the point where it lost any semblance of reliability," Dley wrote.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013