British Columbia

Banned B.C. investor who 'goes through women like popcorn' tries laying claim to ex's home

Kenneth Edward Smith is banned for life from the investment game. The B.C. man's former friends also describe him as a "true predator" who exploits vulnerable women and he somehow lost $100,000 that a recent love interest entrusted to him.

Judge rejects Kenneth Edward Smith's divorce suit, orders him to pay former girlfriend $23K in rent

Kenneth Edward Smith, a former investment industry member in B.C., sued an ex-girlfriend in divorce court, saying he was her spouse in the eyes of the law and therefore deserved a share of her assets. But a judge recently ruled they 'were never involved in a marriage-like relationship at any time.' (Shutterstock)

He's banned for life from the investment game, his former friends describe him as a "true predator" who exploits vulnerable women and he somehow lost $100,000 that a recent love interest entrusted to him.

And yet, when Kenneth Edward Smith broke up with that same girlfriend, he turned right around and sued her in divorce court, saying he was her spouse in the eyes of the law and therefore deserved a share of her assets.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robin Baird promised to "make reasonably short work" of that claim in a judgment issued this week. Instead of granting Smith's request, the judge ordered him to cough up $23,250 to his ex, Tracy Dell Cartwright, for unpaid rent.

During the trial, Cartwright "testified that her relationship with Mr. Smith was an economic and emotional rout," the judge wrote.

On top of the $100,000 investment she lost, Cartwright sank tens of thousands of dollars into a failed business she started with Smith, came to believe he had cheated on her multiple times and watched him trash her home after the breakup, according to the judgment.

"Her view of the present claim is that Mr. Smith, after deceiving her with other women, losing her life savings, and steering her into a doomed business whose debts she will be paying for years, is now circling back for her only remaining asset, her residence in Nanaimo," Baird wrote.

Former friends testify Smith was unfaithful

Two former longtime friends of Smith appeared in court to testify against him — both said they had lost thousands of dollars in investments with him.

His childhood friend, Bob Falk, told the court Smith had bragged to him about sleeping with other women while he was with Cartwright, and even talked about how he wanted to have sex with her daughter.

Smith's cheating tendencies were backed up by Colleen Butler, who testified that he "goes through women almost like popcorn" and "there's always one or two that he's had on the roll at the same time." It was Butler who called Smith a "true predator" and said he used his position as an investment adviser to prey on vulnerable women.

This spring, he was banned for life from the investment industry and fined $125,000 by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. The regulator said Smith had violated multiple industry rules — including during his dealings with Cartwright and Butler — and then failed to co-operate with investigators.

But when he met Cartwright in 2007, Smith was still a registered investment adviser with Queensbury Securities in Nanaimo.

Cartwright had recently ended a long-term relationship, and Smith testified he saw her and thought, "I like the looks of this girl."

Beginning in 2009, they carried on a casual relationship, breaking up frequently and then getting back together again, according to the judgment.

Smith broke up with her in 2012, supposedly for good, while she was away on holiday with her daughter.

"Mr. Smith testified that he was diagnosed with cancer, and he withdrew from the relationship to spare Ms. Cartwright the agony of witnessing his final days," Baird wrote.

Cartwright lost a $100,000 investment she had made through Smith. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)

'She found the place in a foul mess'

But they reconciled later the same year — it's not clear from the judge's decision whether Smith's diagnosis had changed. He moved in with Cartwright in the summer of 2013, agreeing to pay her $1,000 each month in rent.

By the next summer, the arrangement was falling apart. Their joint business was failing, Smith wasn't pulling his weight, or paying rent or helping out with household expenses, and all the while he was threatening to leave her "at the drop of a hat," according to the judge.

They officially broke up in April 2015, but Cartwright agreed to let Smith stay in her basement suite when she moved away from Nanaimo, in return for $750 a month in rent. He paid just $850 for the eight months and refused to move out when she complained.

In the end, Cartwright tossed out Smith's belongings while he was at work.

"She found the place in a foul mess. It looked like it had not been lived in for months. There were dirty dishes strewn about. There was rotten food left on countertops and in the fridge. There had been an infestation of bugs. There was sodden, decomposed clothing in the washing machine," Baird wrote.

From the evidence, the judge said, it was clear that Smith and Cartwright "were never involved in a marriage-like relationship at any time." B.C. law requires, at the very least, a firm romantic commitment and two years of continuous cohabitation for a couple to be considered spouses.

Baird said Smith owed his ex close to three years of unpaid rent and granted Cartwright an award of $23,250, plus legal costs.

It remains to be seen if Cartwright will ever receive any of that money, as Smith has declared bankruptcy.

About the Author

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay is a B.C. journalist with a focus on the courts, health, science and social justice issues. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.

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