New Brunswick

Donnie Snook search warrants released

Saint John police allege someone in former Saint John councillor Donnie Snook's home offered up young boys for live web cam sessions, claiming children in the city were widely available to him.

Investigation of former Saint John councillor could take 1 year to complete, 568 pages suggest

Donnie Snook, 41, is expected to enter pleas on eight charges, including making child pornography, on March 11. (CBC)

Saint John Police allege someone in former Saint John councillor Donnie Snook's home offered up young boys for live web cam sessions, claiming children in the city were widely available to him.

Someone in Snook's home also shared with an undercover police officer images of boys as young as toddlers engaged in various sexual acts with adult males and other prepubescent males, four search warrants that were made public on Tuesday allege.

Police seized several items from Snook's east side home on Jan. 9, including an iPad owned by the City of Saint John, video recordings and video equipment, according to the 568 pages.

When Snook was arrested by members of the RCMP's Internet Child Exploitation Unit, he grabbed a laptop and tried to exit through the rear door of his Martha Avenue bungalow, the documents allege.

Snook, 41, is facing eight child exploitation charges, including three counts of touching a child for a sexual purpose, one count of making child pornography, two counts of distributing child pornography, and two counts of possession of child pornography.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The two-term councillor, who resigned in January, and now-suspended director of the Saint John Inner City Youth Ministry, is expected to enter pleas on March 11. He remains in jail.

The investigation against Snook could take up to a year or more to complete, according to Const. Gordon Redfurn, a member of the family protection unit.

Redfurn made the statement in an information to obtain warrants on Jan. 10 for a Starcraft camper that was parked in the driveway of Snook's home.

Police were searching for several items, including computer software programs, photos, videos, and cameras —"hidden or otherwise," according to the documents.

Officers also searched Snook's home, a black 2011 Ford Escape that was in the driveway and seized files from the Department of Social Development.

'Forbidden passion'

Some of the information from the four warrants has been blacked out, including any information that would identify alleged victims.

But the documents allege lengthy and graphic online chats between an undercover RCMP officer and an unnamed computer user at Snook's home about sexual encounters with young boys.

During a 90-minute chat on March 23, 2012, the unknown user said he was a "100 per cent boy lover," according to a police transcript.

"Forbidden passion that haunts me," the person wrote.

During another chat on Jan. 9, 2013, the undercover officer asked "What is your fav ages?" The unknown user allegedly replied, "don't mind (five) and up."

The unknown user also suggested putting a boy live on camera for the undercover officer, the documents allege. "How old u like? I can have (different) ages," the person asked.

"Man...(you) must live in a great place that you can just get these kids," the undercover officer replied.

"The boys around (here) (are) very open," the unknown person allegedly wrote.

The officer asked whether they are runaways. The user replied, "No."

He said he treats the boys "like gold," according to the police transcript of another chat. "I never hurt."

Dates back to March 2011

The police investigation dates back to March 2011, when Toronto RCMP Det. Paul Krawczyk discovered an unknown person trading child pornography in Saint John area, according to the court documents.

Krawczyk contacted the Saint John Police Force and investigators tracked the IP (Internet Protocol) address to a Martha Avenue residence.

Police executed a search warrant at the home, but found no child pornography on the computers.

As a result, Const. Sean Rocca believed an unknown person in the vicinity had been accessing the home network by hacking into the secure WIFI connection, the documents say.

Rocca "concluded that he must proceed with an investigational approach, as there are no grounds to permit any further searches at this time," according to the documents.

A year later, in March 2012, the Toronto officer communicated in an online chat with an unknown user who suggested he was "active" with two boys, would like to trade nude photos of them and was willing to travel with the boys to facilitate a meet, police allege.

On Nov. 21, 2012, the RCMP's Internet Child Exploitation unit in Fredericton took over as lead investigators as "information received to this point suggests that unknown person(s) living at 575 Martha Avenue … could, in fact, be Saint John city councillor Donnie Snook," the search warrants allege.

Investigators mounted a camera on a power pole outside the home to determine who was at the home when the unknown computer user was online, according to the documents.

On the morning of Jan. 9, when someone working undercover knocked at Snook's door, the Toronto officer was in the middle of another online chat with the unknown user, who allegedly wrote: "(someone) at door … (see) (you) later?"

Snook was the only person home at the time, police allege. A black Ford Escape was parked in the driveway and the lights were on, but the curtains were drawn and no one answered the door, according to the documents.

Officers went to the home later that afternoon and arrested Snook.

Ordered unsealed

The four warrants, executed in the days following Snook's arrest on Jan. 9, have been under a sealing order.

Provincial Court Judge Alfred Brien ruled on Feb. 8 they should be unsealed after considering an application by Brunswick News Inc.

The judge had given police and the Crown seven days to review and redact any sensitive material, such as information that might identify alleged victims, before releasing the warrants to the public.

Search warrants are normally public documents.

Police have said they seized computer equipment and child sexual abuse images during the search and are currently investigating several new sexual abuse allegations against Snook.

Investigators had asked the courts to seal the search warrants to protect the identities of any alleged victims and to protect investigative techniques used in this case and others.

All of the counts against Snook carry a minimum sentence of one year in jail and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, other than the possession charge, which carries a minimum sentence of six months in jail and a maximum of five years in prison.