Winnipeg police not only paid killer Shawn Lamb for information but also encouraged a teen who had been allegedly assaulted by Lamb to drop the charges against him — all part of a plea deal that saw him convicted of two counts of manslaughter.
Lamb was paid $1,500 by Winnipeg police for interviews while he was in custody — information that was used to find the body of Carolyn Sinclair.
The money was not a payment for a confession, police insisted in a news conference on Friday.
The issue of payment came up in court on Thursday, during a hearing in which Lamb, 54, plead guilty to the slaying of Sinclair, 25, and Lorna Blacksmith, 18.
He has been sentenced to 20 years behind bars — 10 years for each killing.
The sentence was a joint submission by the Crown and defence. In return for the guilty pleas, the original charges against Lamb were reduced from second-degree murder, which carries a potential life sentence, to manslaughter.
Those charges were laid in June 2012 after the bodies of Sinclair and Blacksmith were found. A third charge of second-degree murder is still before the courts in connection to the death of Tanya Jane Nepinak, 31.
Lamb has denied killing Nepinak, whose body has never been found.
Family encouraged to drop sex assault charges
In June 2012, Lamb was charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and procuring the sexual services of a person under the age of 18.
Those charges stemmed from an incident with a 14-year-old girl that dated back to the fall of 2011, just months before he was charged in the deaths of the three missing women.
Now, the teen’s mother said herself and her daughter were approached by Winnipeg police and asked to drop the charges against Lamb in order for the plea deal to go through.
“If we did pursue it, he would not plead guilty to anything, and it would draw everything out,” she said, “Basically, what she said to us was that this was the only guarantee he would go to jail.”
Sources confirmed at least two other women were also asked to recant statements related to being sexually assaulted by Lamb as part of the plea deal.
“It’s disgusting to me that our legal system allows that to happen,” she said. She said she doesn’t believe 18 years, Lamb’s total sentence for both manslaughter convictions, is long enough and is disappointed her daughter will not get justice.
The Crown and Lamb’s defence lawyer declined to comment on the deal on Friday.
Police said Friday the decision to pay Lamb for the information was not made lightly but has brought closure to two families.
It was an extraordinary measure made to find missing and murdered women, police said.
Lamb’s defence lawyer, Martin Glazer, told court on Thursday that police paid Lamb $600 to give a confession on the location of a woman's body.
"He was paid by the police for confessing," Glazer said outside court.
"First time that I've ever seen such a case in Canada, and I've been a criminal lawyer for 31 years."
Glazer said the payment made Crown prosecutors nervous that resulting in the plea deal that reduced the charges.
"The problem with the Crown's case was that if the statement [Lamb's confession] was thrown out of court the Crown would have no case," he said.
Police said Friday it was a very difficult case and there was little evidence to secure a conviction.
They didn't go to Lamb and offer to pay him, rather he contacted police saying he wanted $600 for canteen money. In return, he would provide information on the location of a body.
“For the families of the people that were involved in this, I think it would certainly bring some closure to them knowing what occurred and that there has been some justice here,” said Supt. Danny Smith. “These were difficult decisions.”
The following are letters of apology that Shawn Lamb wrote to his victims families and the public. They were entered as exhibits in the manslaughter case on Thursday.
- To Lorna blacksmith's family
My words will never be enough for any amount of I'm sorry for your loss, for your grief, for your hurt and anger. I am a rotten drug addict yet I will try and seek and find peace and closure knowing I take responsibility for my actions. The tragedy and loss I have brought upon you, I am so deeply sorry, yet I also am aware as I said that no amount of sorry's will ever be enough. Would I change places if it was possible? Yes, I would gladly do so. It is not much comfort to you, I realize this Lorna was a beautiful person a beautiful spirit. Please stay with those good thoughts and memories. Whatever life I have left I will do all I can to spread the word on how terrible drugs and drug use is and the tragedies that results from drugs and that I pray every day for Lorna and you. I am truly so sorry. Please try to seek inner peace and closure. I am so sorry.
- To Carolyn's family and loved ones
Your loss and this tragedy is so terrible. Your pain and anger. I wish our paths had never crossed. A written apology is just so lacking I realize it can never change what has happened, yet I am so deeply sorry for my actions. All the pain suffering, despair I have caused. If you could look within me you would see the sorrow and sadness I feel. The remorse of a split-second of anger. My drugs and actions caused this terrible loss and all your pain and anger. Please remember the beautiful person Carolyn always will be in your hearts. Please try to find some closure knowing I blame only myself for my actions. Every day I pray for you and Carolyn and always will. I dedicate the remainder of what ever life I have left to spreading the word on how terrible and tragic drugs are. I will do so all I can to make something good from such a terrible tragedy. I'm so sorry. Please try to seek peace and closure. Again, I'm so sorry.
- To the public
I am a terribly troubled and damaged individual. Some may say the product of a broken children's aid system that put a child in harms way, hoping good will come from the decisions they make concerning the child. I can say sadly from my own experience, this is not the case for myself. My childhood was one full of all types of abuses. I grew up damaged and lost, running away, using drugs to escape. This only led to furthering my own hurt. The addiction to drugs and alcohol provide no escape from oneself or pain. They just lead to damage, insanity, and harm the communities so terribly. People all need to use your voices about how terrible drugs are and the damage they cause. Use your eyes and voices to keep the children's aid system in check. Already too many children have come to such terrible harm and death while others have grown up causing harm and death. If anything good can come out of my terrible life and the harm I have caused, may it go to the cause of ridding drugs from society and the abuse of children. Demand these things of your politicians, of your communities, of yourselves, and of all agencies that deal in children. Whatever life I have left I commit to this.