Witness describes the cooler believed to hold victim's remains
By Glynn Brothen
(JENNIFER STAHN / iNFOnews.ca)
November 20, 2014 - 2:42 PM
"THE KITCHEN DIDN'T MATCH THE REST OF THE APARTMENT IN TERMS OF APPEARANCE"
KAMLOOPS – A clean kitchen next to a living room that was in “complete and utter disarray” is how a former cop described the accused’s apartment to a Kamloops Supreme Court jury Thursday morning.
Connie Buckle, then a constable fresh out of RCMP depot, attended Robert Donald Balbar’s apartment with her RCMP field trainer to respond to a complaint of bear spray odour in the early morning hours of July 30, 2003.
Balbar is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend Heather Hamill. In a recorded confession between Balbar and an undercover officer, Balbar said he placed Hamill’s body in a cooler before disposing her remains in the Thompson River.
While her partner spoke to Balbar in the apartment’s entryway, Buckle said she looked around the apartment.
“The kitchen was remarkably clear of any clutter,” she said but added the living room looked like “a tool shed that a hurricane went through.”
“The kitchen didn’t match the rest of the apartment in terms of appearance,” she said.
Buckle said the living room was full of junk from garbage bags to tools and boxes. She said she noticed an unsealed, long, white cooler. She added the apartment had a smell to it.
“Just a rank, dirty smell,” she said. “I’ve been in several homes (with) that similar smell.”
When asked about the cooler, Buckle said she’d seen similar family-sized coolers before at Costco.
Neither Buckle nor her partner touched the cooler in Balbar's apartment, she said.
Under cross-examination, Balbar’s lawyer Jim Blazina addressed that Buckle never mentioned the cooler in her notes following the call. Buckle said in 2007 she confirmed with another officer that she saw it when she attended Balbar’s apartment.
Balbar's trial continues this afternoon.
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