Mother pondered suicide after 'harassing' during vicious custody battle with millionaire ex, trial hears

The mother of a woman said to have been victimized by three officers during a vicious custody battle told the police corruption trial in Calgary that her daughter considered suicide after became so stressed by being followed "every day, all day."

3 current and former police service members accused of targeting mother in custody battle

Shannon Peterson testified her daughter, Akele Taylor, was followed "every day, all day" and had lost all hope. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

The mother of the woman said to have been victimized by three police officers during a vicious custody battle said her daughter became so stressed by being followed "every day, all day" that she considered suicide. 

Anthony Braile, Const. Bryan Morton and Sgt. Bradford McNish are on trial, accused of targeting Akele Taylor when they worked for a private investigation firm run by retired Calgary Police Service officer Steve Walton and his wife, Heather. 

Taylor's mother, Shannon Peterson, testified on Day 12 of the corruption trial.

Braile, Morton and McNish were all Calgary police officers when they worked for the Waltons' firm that was hired by multi-millionaire Ken Carter, who wanted full custody of the daughter he shared with Taylor. 

All three accused are charged with unauthorized use of a computer system and bribery. The bribery accusations relate to offers of thousands of dollars made to Taylor's friends and acquaintances for information that would help Carter gain custody of their daughter.

Braile and Morton also face charges of criminal harassment, while Morton and McNish each face a charge of breach of trust. 

Taylor became so paranoid about the stalking, she was constantly calling police. Walton once followed her at a Boston Pizza and told her she would be charged with mischief if she continued, said Taylor in her testimony earlier in the trial.

In September 2012, just weeks after Akele Taylor and Ken Carter broke up, her mother came to visit. By then, he'd declared "war" on Taylor and had hired the Waltons' company to dig up dirt on her, she said. 

From left: Bryan Morton and Brad McNish are current Calgary police officers while Tony Braile was fired from the service for an unrelated incident. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Peterson said that during her week-long visit she was followed on Bow Trail, into a grocery story, at a restaurant and at the airport. 

Taylor told her mother that Steve Walton would appear in her secure garage and apartment building. During a confrontation at a restaurant, Taylor testified, Walton told her she would be arrested if she called police again. 

"She said 'I can't call the police, if I call them, they're going to come and arrest me,'" Peterson recounted. "I was helpless, I didn't know how I could help my daughter."

"If you can't call the police and trust the police when you're going through something like that, then who can you trust?"

Peterson teared up when describing the toll the relentless, years-long, "harassing" behaviour her daughter endured. 

"She was really scared for her life ... she was depressed, at times she wanted to commit suicide."

Akele Taylor testified that her ex, Ken Carter, hired a private investigation firm to stalk her for two years in order to gain custody of their daughter. (Instagram/Supplied)

Court has heard evidence that a GPS unit was placed on Taylor's vehicle and there were plans to bug the car, according to witnesses who testified earlier in the trial.

At one point, after her visit to Calgary, Taylor's ex-husband's brother paid her mother a visit at her home in Vancouver. He told her Ken Carter was "a very scary man" and suggested "if I were you, I'd do what he wants you to do."

Court has already heard evidence that people employed by the Waltons' company were paid $1,000 per surveillance shift. 

Although he is now facing criminal charges, Braile was the initial whistle-blower on the case. In 2014, Braile said he began to feel guilty about what he'd done and met with Taylor and her lawyer.

In an affidavit, Braile said Carter — who is said to be worth about $80 million — had likely spent more than a million dollars on the two-year campaign to discredit Taylor in an effort to secure full custody of their daughter. 

Insp. Joe Brar, who was in the anti-corruption unit at the time of the investigation, was the final witness of the day on Wednesday. He testified that working for or as a private investigator "would not be allowed" under CPS's outside business interest protocols. 

While the trio is not facing criminal charges relating to their work outside the service — that could become an issue at a Police Act hearing following the trial — they are accused of illegally accessing CPS computer systems to assist with their work for the Waltons' so-called PI firm.

Brar said officers are "absolutely not" permitted to use CPS resources for outside employment.

Court has heard the Crown plans to present evidence that Braile, Morton and McNish used CPS databases to search names and licence plates to help with the work they were doing for the Waltons. 

In his affidavit, Braile claims Morton ran names on one of CPS's internal systems for the PI company. 

All alleged offences stem from activity between 2012 and 2015, during which time all three were Calgary Police Service officers, though Braile had been suspended for unrelated matters.  

Leah Boyd and Julie Snowdon are prosecuting the case while Pat Fagan, Paul Brunnen and Jim Lutz represent Braile, McNish and Morton. 

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.