Kelowna Mountie suspended with pay in relation to civil case | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna Mountie suspended with pay in relation to civil case

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A Kelowna RCMP officer has been suspended with pay for roughly a year in relation to a civil case.

In 2019, Supreme Court judge Sharon Matthews ordered Cpl. Matt Hare, of the Kelowna RCMP, to pay punitive damages for a wrongful filing of a lien on a neighbour’s property after demanding payment from them when he built a retaining wall in-between the two properties.

Hare had filed a claim five years ago against his neighbour Kelly Whitehouse, owner of Outback Developments Inc. after building a retaining wall between the two properties. He claimed Whitehouse agreed to pay for half of it, in the amount of $8,300. After an argument, he then asked for $5,000 from Whitehouse. Hare also filed for a lien on the neighbour’s property, right when it was about to be sold.

Global News originally reported the story last week, Dec. 2, about Hare, the civil suit and further allegations from Whitehouse. 

Janelle Shoihet, senior media relations officer with the RCMP, said Hare has been suspended with pay since December 2020 in relation to a civil court case but could not provide details on the case. It appears to be based on this case.

Evidence collected from Hare didn’t add up, according to the judge.

Matthews said a text sent from Hare to Whitehouse didn’t use language about an agreement being met, only a question which “makes no sense if there was an agreement,” between the two parties to split the cost of the retaining wall, she said in her ruling, May 17, 2019.

“Hare testified that he was simply conveying to Mr. Whitehouse that the retaining wall was now built and it was time for Outback to pay. I do not accept this evidence as it does not fit with the other evidence,” she said.

“He simply went to the meeting to try to convince Mr. Whitehouse to pay.  As I have explained, he did not even have invoices for the entirety of the materials. In addition, Mr. Hare did the title search prior to sending the text to Mr. Whitehouse inquiring about payment and prior to the meeting at which he demanded payment for the retaining wall. He agreed he did it for the purpose of filing a lien. I conclude that he knew the property was going to be sold and he wanted to be in a position to file a lien,” she said.

“Mr. Whitehouse's evidence makes sense, and Mr. Hare's evidence does not make sense to such an extent that I conclude that Mr. Hare concocted it. I accept Mr. Whitehouse’s evidence as to the content of the discussion on September 19, 2015.”

She said Hare is also not a contractor because he was not engaged to supply the materials for the retaining wall or to build the retaining wall, despite his claims he is and the lien is not valid.

“Mr. Hare knew he was never engaged to build the retaining wall, and did not have an agreement to build the retaining wall," she said.

Matthews called Hare’s conduct of the situation “highhanded and malicious.”

“Hare took advantage of a window of vulnerability when Outback was to sell its property and a builders lien would cause havoc. Mr. Hare's actions pervert the builders lien system which is to ensure that vulnerable contractors, subcontractors and workers have leverage to assert valid claims when rogue contractors or owners might otherwise let them hang out to dry. This system will not serve its purpose unless persons who abuse it, like Mr. Hare, are punished and seen to be punished by an award of damages.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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