Judge reserves decision on property tied to Donnie Snook's sex crimes
Crown wants to sell or destroy any property linked to sex crimes against boys
A New Brunswick judge has reserved his decision on whether to allow the Crown to sell or destroy property connected to the sex crimes of former Saint John city councillor and convicted pedophile Donnie Snook.
The property includes a house, a camper and a variety of electronic equipment, including a city-owned laptop that may still contain images of child pornography.
Snook,41, did not attend the forfeiture hearing in Saint John on Wednesday, but has relinquished his interest in any and all items in the Crown's application, said defence lawyer Dennis Boyle.
The hearing only managed to address the 12 pieces of electronic equipment seized by police during the investigation. Provincial court Judge Alfred Brien said he will deliver his verdict on those items on Feb. 10.
Snook, who also served as a youth ministry leader, was sentenced in October to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to 46 charges, including sexual assault, making child pornography and extortion.
The offences spanned 12 years and involved 17 male victims, some as young as five years old.
Snook received an additional three-month sentence in December on four other charges stemming from his native Newfoundland and Labrador.
He admitted to two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual interference involving a boy under age 14 while he was a pastor with the now-defunct Salvation Army church in Mount Moriah in the mid-1990s.
City laptop among items Crown wants destroyed
The City of Saint John agreed during Wednesday's hearing to release any claim to the laptop, iPad and BlackBerry supplied to Snook in his role as a second-term city councillor, said city solicitor John Nugent.
Judge Brien asked whether those electronic items contain child pornography or if they were used in the commission of crime?
Crown prosecutor Michel Bertrand said no one knows what's on the laptop. Police were unable to penetrate the city's encryption system, he said.
The Crown's intention is to destroy the laptop, he added.
"The city wants to avoid coming into possession of an item that probably contains child pornography," Nugent told the court.
"That is probably the position most responsible employers would take," the judge replied.
Man claims ownership of 2 computers
A young man told the court that two of the desktop computers that were seized belong to him.
James Smith said the estimated combined total of one terabyte of data is more "critical" to him than the computers themselves. The data includes confidential client information, intellectual property and personal photos, he said.
The court heard that police believe Smith helped Snook break into his neighbour's WiFi and use those internet connections to exchange child pornography online.
There are no charges against Smith and he told the court anyone could have done that.
David Skead, of the RCMP's internet child exploitation unit, who was a lead investigator in the Snook case, said those two computers still contain about 250 child pornography images.
The images were deleted, but police can detect that they are still there, he said.
Sister wants suicide note
Snook's sister, Donna Gilbert, who was also named as a respondent, did not attend the hearing.
She had claimed ownership of a Toshiba laptop, also seized by police.
Smith said he thought Gilbert wanted to retrieve a suicide letter written by Jordon Byers, a student at St. Malachy's High School, who died in 2009.
His obituary listed Snook and Smith as being among his "special friends."
Gilbert's claim was dismissed, however, because she didn't show up for court and didn't file her affidavit properly.