Millionaire funded 2-year campaign to stalk and harass ex, Calgary cops' corruption trial hears
Three current and former police service members accused of targeting mother in custody battle
After she broke up with her common-law husband, Akele Taylor says she was terrorized as her millionaire ex funded a two-year campaign of stalking and harassment which prosecutors say involved current and former Calgary police officers.
"It was horrible. I felt hopeless," said Taylor.
Taylor testified Thursday on day four of the corruption trial in Calgary for Tony Braile, Bryan Morton and Brad McNish.
The three men are accused of working for a private investigation firm hired by Taylor's former common-law husband, Ken Carter, who is said to be worth about $80 million.
The trio face charges of bribery and unauthorized use of a computer system. Braile and Morton also face charges of criminal harassment, while Morton and McNish each face a charge of breach of trust.
All alleged offences stem from activity between 2012 and 2015, during which time all three were Calgary Police Service officers, though Braile had been suspended for unrelated matters.
So far, Taylor's testimony has mostly focused on retired CPS officer Steve Walton and his wife, Heather — who owned the private investigation firm — and its main client, Ken Carter. Those three go on trial for similar charges in September.
In August 2012, Taylor said Carter declared war on her after the two split up.
According to Taylor, he not only wanted her to take a "financial settlement" to move away, he also wanted her to leave their 13-month-old daughter with him.
Taylor said Carter told her if she didn't cooperate, he would "spend every last dime and every last cent" to follow her for "10, 20, 30 years until I do something wrong and then he'll have me arrested."
"It's going to be war so get ready," she said she was told.
Right after their split, the former couple had 50/50 custody of their daughter. Taylor said Carter had Steve Walton begin to pick up her daughter, somehow getting into her secure condo building and right up to her door.
In September 2012, Taylor described an incident at her storage unit. While sitting in her car, she was suddenly surrounded by police cars and told to get out. The officers said someone had called police to report she had stolen property in her car. Eventually she spotted Carter and Walton nearby.
Taylor says she filed a complaint with CPS but nothing ever came of it.
Within a month of the break-up, Taylor said she knew she was being followed. Carter would file affidavits at court which described her movements: "He would know where I was at all times."
On several occasions she says she spotted Walton inside her secure parkade.
'I was scared for my life'
In November, Taylor's best friend was walking home from the gym when she was stopped by Heather Walton who offered an envelope she said contained $10,000 in exchange for information about Taylor.
"I never ever thought Ken would go to this extent," said Taylor. "I felt scared, I didn't know what he would do next."
I felt scared, I didn't know what he would do next.- Akele Taylor told court of her ex
Again, Taylor — who was by then "mortified and disturbed — said she called police.
An officer showed up and she and her friend wrote statements. After that officer left, Taylor said she saw him run into Walton on his way out of the condo building. The two seemed to be in a fight; Walton appeared to be angry with the constable, said Taylor.
The "stalking" continued, according to Taylor: "At this point, I was scared for my life."
Taylor says she was constantly calling police, about 15 times at that point. Walton, who somehow knew, told her she would be charged with mischief if she continued.
GPS tracking device on Taylor's car
Believing her phone was tapped and feeling Calgary police wouldn't or couldn't help, Taylor says she felt hopeless.
She began borrowing friends' cars, parking in other condo residents' spots, taking cabs and leaving her home under the cover of darkness. She changed her phone number and brought her car into a mechanic to see if there was a GPS tracker on it. Although one wasn't found at that time, prosecutors Leah Boyd and Julie Snowdon say a tracking device was eventually found on Taylor's car.
My life was just court, then being followed, watched and harassed.- Akele Taylor
One day, after returning her daughter to Carter, Taylor says she and her mother were on their way out for dinner when three vehicles suddenly surrounded her and boxed her in. Steve and Heather Walton were each driving a vehicle, the third was a marked police car. Eventually they let her drive away, she said.
Taylor's mother took photos of the incident which were shown in court.
"That one really got to me for a while. I didn't know what was going to happen next," Taylor said.
In October or November of 2012, at a Boston Pizza, Walton appeared while Taylor, her daughter and a friend were having dinner. He wanted Taylor to hand over her daughter. She videotaped the confrontation.
Feeling "violated and scared," Taylor says she became depressed: "My life was just court, then being followed, watched and harassed."
Judges persuaded Taylor was unstable, dangerous and a drug dealer, court hears
Meanwhile, the court battle continued; there were periods where Carter had been able to convince various judges Taylor was unstable, dangerous and, in one case, a drug dealer. Sometimes the former couple had 50/50 custody, sometimes she didn't see her daughter for months at a time.
Take Carter's money, leave your daughter and get out of town or 'you're going to regret it.'- Akele Taylor says she was told this by her ex's mediator
Taylor got her hopes up when Carter said he'd arranged for a mediator.
She showed up at a coffee shop to meet with him but he reiterated the same threat: take Carter's money, leave her daughter and get out of town, or else "you're going to regret it," Taylor says she was told.
Taylor says she learned the mediator was from a small town in Texas and when she Googled his name, she discovered he'd been charged with several sex offences involving children.
That mediator had been living with Carter and their daughter, according to Taylor.
Carter sued Taylor for $1.5 million
After the 30-minute meeting, the mediator wrote a report that said Taylor was dangerous and mentally ill, and gave the opinion that she should not be allowed to be with her daughter alone.
A Calgary judge took away her 50-per-cent custody and ordered Taylor have only supervised visits. Carter unsuccessfully proposed Heather Walton act as the supervisor.
Next, Carter filed a lawsuit. Taylor and her parents were sued for $1.5 million for false representation of character.
When Taylor flew to Edmonton for a court-ordered psychiatric assessment after her custody rights were taken away, she says she spotted Morton and Steve Walton outside her hotel.
Justice Bryan Mahoney has already heard evidence from Taylor's lawyer that Braile was the whistle-blower who felt guilty after following the alleged victim for a year and disclosed the group's activities, first to Taylor and then to police.
Pat Fagan, Paul Brunnen and Jim Lutz who represent Braile, McNish and Morton, have not yet had the opportunity to cross-examine Taylor, whose testimony continues Friday.
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