Calgary

Serious allegations levelled against prosecution in case of former Calgary cop accused of corruption

Tensions were high in a Calgary courtroom on Friday as the trial for a former Calgary police officer and two others accused of corruption, bribery and harassment threatened to go off the rails, while serious accusations were made against the Crown prosecutor's office by one of the defence lawyers involved.

Trial for 2 current and 1 former police officer also charged in connection with case booked in 2018

Tensions were high in a courtroom on Friday as lawyers for a former Calgary police officer, his wife who worked for CPS and a client of their private investigation firm butted heads with the judge and prosecutor. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Tensions were high in a Calgary courtroom on Friday as the trial for a former Calgary police officer and two others accused of corruption, bribery and harassment threatened to go off the rails, while serious accusations were made against the Crown prosecutor's office by one of the defence lawyers involved.

The first available trial dates for the four week trial are in 2018, putting any further delays at risk of all charges being stayed following the Supreme Court's Jordan decision.

That decision means defence lawyers can now apply to have charges tossed out if the case has gone longer than the hard timelines imposed by the country's highest court on what is considered an unreasonable delay.

Defence lawyers for Steve Walton, his wife Heather Walton and Ken Carter, a client of their private investigation firm, attempted to refuse to book trial dates because they said the prosecution hadn't handed over important documents related to the case.

"They direct indicted on charges that should never have been direct indicted and now they're feeling the Jordan pressure," said Carter's lawyer Hersh Wolch who also indicated he wants to apply to have his client tried separately.

Wolch said he intends to bring forward an abuse of process motion against the Crown's office for direct indicting his client which means defence won't have the opportunity to test the credibility of a key witness at a preliminary inquiry.

Because of missing disclosure — documents detailing the Crown's case against the accused — defence lawyers tried to argue they shouldn't yet be forced to set trial dates.

Wolch says he asked for the information in a nine-page letter to the prosecution.

'This matter needs some attention'

But Justice David Gates and Crown prosecutor Iwona Kuklicz argued the trial needed to be scheduled immediately because of a serious backlog and defence lawyers Wolch, Alain Hepner and Kelsey Sitar were ordered to return Friday afternoon to nail down a date.

"We need to get this case under some kind of planning," said Gates. "This matter needs some attention."

Retired officer Steve Walton, who was with the CPS from 1978 to 2003, started a private investigation firm and was contracting other current and former officers for jobs like surveillance or as guards.

It's alleged he asked current members to use the CPS computer system to run searches for him. A client of Walton's, Ken Carter, 65, faces criminal harassment and perjury related to services allegedly provided by the Walton's PI firm in a domestic matter. 

A total of six people face charges related to the investigation.

Steve Walton faces charges of criminal harassment, bribing an officer, a charge related to the storage of firearms and perjury. 

Heather Walton, who worked for CPS as a civilian, faces the same charges except perjury. 

Const. Bryan Morton — criminal harassment, breach of trust, bribery and unauthorized use of a computer system.

Sgt. Bradford McNish — breach of trust, bribery and unauthorized use of a computer system.

Tony Braile — who was fired by the Calgary police in February for professional misconduct relating to a 2008 high speed chase — is also charged with criminal harassment, breach of trust and bribery.

The specialized prosecution branch of the Edmonton Crown's office is handling the case to avoid a conflict because of the involvement of local police officers. Kuklicz was in court on Friday on behalf of her Edmonton counterpart.

Kuklicz said Wolch's letter was only sent at the end of September and the list of requested documents is lengthy. The Edmonton Crown's office, she said, is "working on it."

Morton, McNish and Braile's trial will start Feb. 4, 2018.

Wolch, Hepner and Sitar will be back in court Friday afternoon to book a trial date for the Waltons and Carter.

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