Nova Scotia

Christopher Garnier's lawyer, father clash ahead of murder appeal

The appeal for Christopher Garnier, convicted of killing an off-duty police officer, will go ahead in December despite a dispute between his lawyer and father.

Roger Burrill applied to be removed as Garnier's lawyer, but has agreed to continue

The appeal for Christopher Garnier, convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Catherine Campbell, will be heard in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal on Dec. 3. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The appeal for Christopher Garnier, convicted of killing an off-duty police officer, will go ahead in December despite a dispute between his lawyer and father.

Roger Burrill, a prominent Nova Scotia Legal Aid appeals lawyer, had applied to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to withdraw as Garnier's lawyer, citing a dispute with the Garnier family.

Burrill had prepared a brief which he planned to argue three viable grounds of appeal for Garnier's second-degree murder conviction during a hearing before the province's highest court on Dec. 3.

But Burrill said the Garnier family, particularly Garnier's father Vince Garnier, were pressing to add additional grounds to the argument.

"Vince Garnier is a significant influence in this matter and with his son," Burrill told Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Justice Carole Beaton during a hearing Thursday.

Burrill told Beaton that as an officer of the court, he could not in good conscience argue those additional grounds, and so he was asking to withdraw. 

Garnier 'on board' with Burrill

"It is essential when there is a breakdown that I not wait until the last minute," Burrill said. "There is a problem."

Burrill said he had never before gone before the Court of Appeal with such a request. He has been practicing law for 33 years.

After Burrill stated his concerns, Beaton questioned Garnier directly. 

"Are you content?" she asked Garnier.

"There were some questions before I had an opportunity to read the factum," Garnier told the judge. "We are all on board with Roger and we want to stay with him, if it's at all possible."

Burrill then agreed to continue representing Garnier in his appeal.

Garnier was convicted of second-degree murder in December 2017 for the killing of Catherine Campbell, an off-duty Truro, N.S., police officer.

Garnier killed Campbell in September 2015, hours after he met her for the first time in a downtown Halifax bar. He placed her body in a green bin and wheeled it through city streets before dumping her remains under the approaches to the Macdonald Bridge.

In sentencing him, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Joshua Arnold ruled that Garnier must serve 13½ years before he can begin applying for parole.

About the Author

Blair Rhodes

Reporter

Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at blair.rhodes@cbc.ca

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