The leader of the largest union in Newfoundland and Labrador is urging her members at the hospital in Baie Verte to turn down police requests to take lie detector tests about a large sum of money that was allegedly stolen from a dead patient.
RCMP officers are trying to solve happened to the life savings — about $22,000 — that patient Edward Driscoll, 59, brought to the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre before he died. When the hospital's safe was open, the money was missing.
'[Polygraph testing] doesn't serve any legitimate purpose and would basically put them in a position that they're very uncomfortable with, having done nothing wrong' - Carol Furlong
To help with the investigation, police are using polygraph machines, even though they acknowledge that what they find cannot be used in court should criminal charges ever be laid.
NAPE president Carol Furlong said the union's legal counsel has recommended against members participating in any such tests.
"The very fundamental reason [is that] the polygraph test doesn't serve as a true investigative purpose," Furlong told CBC's Radio Noon.
"The results of the polygraph are not recognized as being accurate by the courts. We of course have people who would very naively agree to participate in such a process, while there are others who would fundamentally be opposed to agreeing to it," she said.
Furlong said she opposes the RCMP's decision "because it doesn't serve any legitimate purpose and would basically put them in a position that they're very uncomfortable with, having done nothing wrong."
'You have nothing to be guilty about'
She added that workers have cited several concerns, including the perception of what happens if they express their opposition to testing.
"You could come out looking very guilty, when you have nothing to be guilty about," she said.
RCMP, though, hope the tests will provide them with clues to find out what happened to Seymour's money, which was placed in the hospital's safe last June.
The Harbour Round man didn't have a bank account, so he brought the money to the centre for safe-keeping when he was admitted.
With no witnesses, tips or forensic evidence to go on, the Mounties turned to the polygraph. With 108 employees alone at the health centre, testing everyone who had access to the safe, or the floor that it's on, won't happen overnight.
"This investigation is enormous," said RCMP Cpl. Justin Hewlett. "It's a daunting task because of the employee list, plus others who had access to the health centre. You can't rule anyone out from the general public yet."
Four tested to date
To date, only four people have been tested and shown "no signs of deception," said Hewlett. He noted the test must be done with a person's consent.
Hewlett said everyone contacted so far has agreed to the test.
"Thus far we've received no hesitation or resistance to want to participate in bringing this investigation to a close — successfully, that is. We've received nothing but extreme co-operation from Central Health and all employees."
Results of lie detector tests are rarely admissible as evidence in court, but they can help point to, or rule out suspects.
"The outcome of taking the polygraph does not immediately warrant ... you're the person who did it, you're guilty, and you're being charged," said Hewlett. "It's more to help guide the investigation or narrow down the suspects. You know, if someone didn't pass, if deception is detected, then maybe that leads to a more thorough interview or investigation of that person."
Seymour's relatives said they hoped to use the money to pay off funeral expenses and fix up the graves of his brother and parents.