Nfld. & Labrador

Dale Porter killed over making fun, disrespecting Vikings motorcycle club, says Crown

Al Potter took part in what he believed was disposing of a body. It was actually a dead pig.

Porter's sister paints picture of close-knit family, hard-working brother

Al Potter, 55, gets his handcuffs taken off on the first day of evidence being called at his first-degree murder trial at Supreme Court. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

Al Potter stabbed Dale Porter to death because the North River father of two disrespected the Vikings motorcycle club, and later confessed during an undercover police sting in Ontario, the Crown told a St. John's jury Wednesday.

Potter, 55, is on trial at Supreme Court in St. John's for first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Porter, 39, in the early morning of June 29, 2014. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutor Sheldon Steeves laid out the Crown's theory and the evidence the jury will hear, including testimony from two police agents — civilians who gathered evidence for police and were members of the Vikings motorcycle club — who helped run an undercover police sting in Ontario.

It was there, Steeves said, that Potter confessed to stabbing and killing Porter. That confession, the jury heard, was on tape and will be played during trial.

Night at the bar

Steeves said Porter and some friends went to a bar in Bay Roberts around midnight on June 29, 2014. There he met a woman he knew and two other men, who the Crown says were Potter and another man, whose identity is protected by a publication ban."

When the bar closed at 3 a.m., Steeves said, all three men and the woman got in a cab and headed to Porter's North River home.

"There all the males got out and the woman stayed in the cab and wanted to go home to Makinsons," Steeves said.

Crown attorney Sheldon Steeves says Dale Porter was killed because he made fun of the Vikings Motorcycle Club, of which Potter was allegedly a member. (CBC)

At the same time, Porter's friends took a cab to Spaniard's Bay. By the time Porter's friends arrived back in North River, they discovered Porter "brutally wounded."

He died a short time later in hospital, Steeves said — "a loss of blood, essentially."

According to the Crown, the woman called another cab, which took her, Potter and the second man to a garage in Cupids, where, Steeves said, Potter rode off on his motorcycle and the second man walked with the woman to Makinsons.

The Crown argued that Potter planned to kill Porter because he made fun of the Vikings motorcycle club, "spitting on the colours, and making an indecent proposal" to the woman who was dating the second man.

Potter stabbed him multiple times, while the second man kicked him, Steeves said.

North River resident Porter, who's pictured here working on a fishing boat, was killed on his property during the early morning hours of June 29, 2014. (Submitted photo)

Porter was left dying in his driveway, with multiple stab wounds, the jury heard through testimony from the first officers on the scene.

A bystander applied pressure to Porter's neck, while a small group crowded in the driveway, where he lay practically lifeless, other than shallow breathing.

There were wounds on his neck, chest, abdomen and arm, the court was told, and despite their best efforts, Porter died about an hour after being picked up by ambulance. 

'Dead pig in disguise'

In the days following Porter's death, Steeves said, Potter would tell a police agent at his home on Cabot Street in St. John's that the murder was committed because of disrespect towards the club.

Potter remained a free man, until he was arrested for an unrelated matter in 2016.

Police sent an agent to jail in Ontario, where he told Potter he had a job for him as a "debt collector" once he was out of jail.

An undercover police officer then visited Potter in jail and told him a fictitious story of needing to track down two brothers who owed a client money.

Police officers got the call around 4 a.m. that there was a stabbing in North River. Officers discovered Porter lying on the ground in his driveway. (CBC)

Once he was released from prison in Ontario in September 2016, Potter drove with the undercover officer and police agent — whose name is covered by a publication ban — to a town outside of Toronto.

In an effort to gain his trust, the officer asked him to help dispose of a dead body and told him he'd have to kill one of the brothers who Potter thought owed a debt.

"Mr. Potter was recruited into burying a dead body, which was a dead pig in disguise," said Steeves.

The next day at a hotel parking lot, Steeves said, Potter told the undercover officer he'd killed Porter. However, the recording device the officer was wearing did not work.

He was later arrested and transported back to St.John's, where he's been incarcerated at Her Majesty's Penitentiary ever since.

A father, fisherman and truck driver

Porter's family members were quiet and Potter took notes during the Crown's opening statement to the jury.

Jennifer Reid, Porter's younger sister, was the first witness for the Crown and painted a picture of a hard-working father of two and a close-knit family.

Holding her composure, Reid told the jury that her brother worked during the crab season as a fisherman, as he had since he was a teenager, and as a truck driver for Atlantic Grocery in the off-season.

Jennifer Reid holds photos of Porter, her older brother, at Supreme Court in St. John's on Wednesday, with her older sister, Bonnie, standing by her side. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

"My mom would cook Jiggs' dinner every Sunday, and Dale was there every Sunday," she said, holding a brown paper envelope containing photos of her brother.

"He was a really good cook and he'd have the family at his house."

Porter was in the midst of a separation at the time of his death. His son was 14 and his daughter was nine. 

The defence asked few questions, other than to probe Reid's knowledge of her brother's cocaine use. The Crown told jurors during opening statements the drug was present in Porter's system.

"I feel like that was very new because he was going through a separation.," she said.

"I honestly don't know when he had the time.… He was either fishing or truck driving."

Don't play 'private detective'

Justice Garrett Handrigan instructed the jury on who the main players were in the courtroom, on the presumption of innocence and what their role would be in the trial.

"After all the evidence is presented, counsel will make their final addresses to you.… I remind you that what counsel says is not evidence," Handrigan said.

Sheldon Steeves and Erin Matthews, not pictured, are the Crown prosecutors on Al Potter's first-degree murder trial. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

The jury must consider the evidence put to them, use common sense, and not to "play the role of private detective."

"People will be interested in the trial and your experiences as a juror.… Don't talk to them about it, simply put," he told them.

The Crown expects to call between 35 and 45 witnesses for the trial, which is expected to last five weeks.

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About the Author

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.