Nfld. & Labrador

James Cody, who defeated Operation Razorback charges, killed in Craigmillar Avenue shooting

The Mount Pearl man was arrested in Operation Razorback and later had his case stayed by the Supreme Court of Canada over a lengthy delay getting to trial.

Friends of 47-year-old say they've lost kind, funny, generous man

James Cody, 47 — known to friends as Jamie — was killed Sunday morning in St. John's. (Submitted photo)

James Cody, a man who took his drug case to the Supreme Court of Canada and won, was killed in what police are calling a suspicious death in the west end of St. John's.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is saying little about the slaying, which shut down Craigmillar Avenue Sunday and kept residents inside their homes.

Police officers were outside 40 Craigmillar Ave. early Tuesday afternoon, taking photographs and surveying the crime scene. A police dog was also present.

At the same time, Cody's friends gathered in St. John's in a celebration of his life as they await further details of what happened.

Video surveillance from a nearby street captured the sounds of five gunshots around 4 a.m. Officers responded shortly after to what the police called "unknown trouble," and issued a shelter-in-place advisory an hour later. The street remained shut down for more than 12 hours, until 5 p.m.

Cody's vehicle, with the driver's side door ajar, was found directly outside the home of Kurt Churchill, a man who was arrested six years ago in a high-profile drug probe targeting cocaine dealers.

Armed Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers and an investigator are seen combing Craigmillar Avenue in the wake of Sunday's shooting. (Paul Daly for CBC)

Police began investigating Churchill and another man in 2013 after receiving information from sources that they were "high-level cocaine traffickers."

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-Newfoundland & Labrador had Churchill under surveillance for six months before their arrests. The police intercepted cellphone traffic and bugged vehicles, as part of a probe dubbed Operation Battalion.

In March 2014, investigators found $300,000 hidden in the lining of two suitcases at an airport in Montreal.

Churchill and his co-accused would later be acquitted after their lawyers filed applications over unfair trial delays, and the Crown called no evidence.

Kurt Churchill is seen following his 2014 arrest in Operation Battalion. He would later be acquitted after his lawyer filed an application about unfair trial delays and the Crown called no evidence in the case. (CBC)

On Sunday morning, Cody's body, which was covered by a yellow blanket or tarp, was seen farther up the street from Churchill's home. 

No one has been charged in connection with the slaying, and police have not identified any suspects.

Drug case tossed

Cody, 47, was arrested as part of Operation Razorback, a massive interprovincial drug probe, in 2010.

He was not initially a suspect in the investigation but he happened to be with a primary target at the time of that person's arrest.

A search of Cody's vehicle uncovered half a kilogram of marijuana, a kilogram of cocaine and a stun gun. 

Supreme Court upholds right to a timely trial

4 years ago
2:31
Friday's unanimous 7-0 ruling upholds the set 18-month timeline for lower court cases and 30 months for a Superior Court case to go to trial 2:31

However, the case was thrown out in 2017 by the Supreme Court of Canada, because he had to wait five years for a five-day trial.

The unanimous 7-0 ruling made national headlines as it upheld the principles of the Jordan decision, which imposed an 18-month timeline for a case to be wrapped up in lower court, and 30 months for a superior court case.

'I've lost my closest, best friend'

Friends of Cody gathered in St. John's on Tuesday afternoon in a celebration of his life.

Chris Howlett had been best friends with Cody since Grade 6, and says he is in shock over what's happened.

"I've lost my closest, best friend.… Jamie stood in my wedding," Howlett said.

"He was a very caring guy, very funny guy, very generous. Not very many people will say a bad word about Jamie."

Chris Howlett, left, says he's grieving the loss of a good friend. (Submitted photo)

Howlett is remembering his friend for his love of life, the water and motorcycling — not his criminal history.

He said Cody, who was originally from Mount Pearl, had many godchildren and was known as a surrogate uncle.

Howlett said he hasn't heard much about what transpired Sunday morning.

"I have no idea. I have goosebumps here thinking about it. I wish I did but I have no idea."

Cody leaves behind a mother, sisters, godchildren and a large circle of friends.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

With files from Rob Antle

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