Calgary

Ryan Lane murder trial hears of custody battle reconciliation attempt

Ryan Lane and his estranged partner had agreed to try to work out the dispute over custody of their daughter about a year before his remains were found in a rural area.

Sheena Cuthill allowed Lane to see his daughter despite child support arrears

Wilhelm Rempel, Sheena Cuthill and Tim Rempel are all accused of murdering Ryan Lane because he wanted visitation rights with the daughter he and Cuthill shared. (CBC/Global)

Ryan Lane and his estranged partner had agreed to try to work out the dispute over custody of their daughter about a year before his remains were found in a rural area, a Calgary court heard Wednesday.

Sheena Cuthill, her husband Tim Rempel and his brother, Wilhelm Rempel, are all on trial for first-degree murder in connection with his death in 2012.

Lane disappeared in February of that year and his remains were found nine months later in a barrel near Beiseker, 70 kilometres northeast of Calgary, burned almost beyond recognition.

Ryan Lane disappeared in February 2012 and his remains were found nine months later in a barrel near Beiseker, burned almost beyond recognition. (Submitted by Ryan Lane's family)

Custody dispute

Cuthill had applied for sole guardianship of her daughter in October 2011, the court heard from Raelene Noti — a manager with the province's family services department who oversees mediation services.

But before the application went through, Noti said Cuthill and Lane agreed to attempt to work things out through mediation.

She said their first meeting went well and they had already set up another one.

Noti testified it appeared that Lane had been in arrears on his maintenance payments, but that Cuthill was willing to forgo the money and allow him to rebuild his relationship with his daughter.

Esso stop

In between those meetings, on Feb. 6, 2012, Lane was given a chance to see his daughter for the first time in about two years, court heard.

Just before midnight that day, the Crown alleges the Rempel brothers called Lane and lured him to a parking lot in a plot to murder him.

Court was also shown video from the security cameras at an Esso gas station at 6510 Country Hills Blvd. N.W. It showed a red truck entering the parking lot, followed by a Jeep between 11:06 p.m. and 11:40 p.m. on Feb. 6. 

A Calgary court viewed surveillance video of a red pickup truck entering an Esso gas station parking lot followed shortly by a red Jeep. (Court evidence)

Crown counsel said he will make the case that this is where the Rempel brothers made the phone call to Lane.

An Esso witness told court the time stamped on the video is not exact, give or take 20 minutes.

Earlier this week court heard that Lane's father Bruce Lane — concerned for his son's safety — had followed the young man to the meeting place.

He said he watched Ryan get into a red truck that drove away with his son, but eventually lost track of it.

2 vehicles investigated

Const. Shelley Dunn of the Calgary police forensic crime scene unit showed the court images of two vehicles connected to the case, a red GMC Sierra truck and a red Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Dunn joined the investigation days after Lane disappeared.

She said when she opened the door of the truck, it smelled like it had just been cleaned. The inside passenger door had two stains and the handle appeared to be broken, she told the court.

The Cherokee was registered to Sheena Cuthill. Dunn said it had several bags of garbage in it and yellow rope, which was seized.

The trial is set for six weeks, but isn't expected to take the full amount of time.

With files from Colleen Underwood