B.C. dealer's life insurance claim denied over crime affiliation, but mystery surrounds death
Kevin Valentyne was a 'mid-level' cocaine and heroin dealer when he went missing in 2013, court documents say
The mother of a convicted Metro Vancouver drug dealer presumed dead for four years has been denied her son's life insurance payout because the company says he died from his involvement in criminal activity — despite the fact that there are no direct clues as to how he died.
On Jan. 7, 2013, Kevin Valentyne got a phone call while he was driving to lunch with his girlfriend in downtown Vancouver.
The 24-year-old Burnaby man was a mid-level cocaine and heroin dealer at the time. Court documents say the call was from two lower-level dealers.
The conversation only lasted six seconds, but he immediately turned his car around and drove back to East Vancouver.
Valentyne stopped at a house associated with the two dealers and went inside, telling his girlfriend he'd be right back. He left his cell phone and wallet in the car with the engine running.
Valentyne was never seen or heard from again. He was declared missing and presumed dead in 2014.
But last Thursday, his life insurance payout was denied because the company said his presumed death was a result of his involvement in criminal activity.
This, despite there's "no direct evidence" as to what happened after Valentyne went inside the house — though court documents said some of the 24-year-old's blood was found in the home.
Drug trafficking, life insurance
Valentyne had been dealing for six years before he disappeared, according to court documents. He was convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking in 2009 and sentenced to jail time.
In 2011, Valentyne took out a life insurance policy tied to his $415,000 mortgage on a Vancouver condo.
That policy included an exclusion clause that stated the company wouldn't pay if the policy holder died while committing a crime, or died "as a result of" criminal activity.
Valentyne's mother, Vanessa, took over his estate after he was declared missing.
She moved to have his life insurance policy paid out earlier this year, but was denied over the exclusion clause.
Vanessa sued the Canada Life Assurance Company, saying it could only be speculating in its reasoning because of the lack of evidence in her son's case.
Legal action dismissed
Her lawsuit was dismissed on Thursday, after a B.C. Supreme Court justice agreed with the insurer.
"I need only be satisfied on a balance of probabilities that his death was a result of his involvement in criminal activity," wrote Justice Catherine Murray. "The only rational conclusion is that Mr. Valentyne was murdered as a result of his involvement in drug trafficking, a criminal offence."
The justice wrote that Valentyne didn't need to be actually selling drugs at the moment he was killed for the clause to be valid.
In 2013, a private investigator hired by Vanessa's lawyers said Kevin had been trying to grow his dealing territory by selling at below-market prices before his disappearance.
Jim Westman, a former Mountie of 32 years, said that strategy didn't sit well with rival dealers and, at one point, police warned Valentyne that his life could be in danger.
An affidavit filed in B.C. Supreme Court said he didn't "heed those warnings."
CBC News has reached out to Vanessa's lawyer for comment.
With files from the Canadian Press