Nova Scotia

Neighbour testifies he heard a bang, saw blood in Sandeson's apartment

A neighbour and friend of William Sandeson testified Monday that he saw a man sitting at Sandeson's kitchen table with blood on his back the night Taylor Samson went missing.

William Sandeson charged with 1st-degree murder in August 2015 death of Taylor Samson

William Sandeson is charged with first-degree murder. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

A former neighbour testified at William Sandeson's first-degree murder trial Monday that he heard a loud bang and saw blood inside the accused's apartment the night Taylor Samson disappeared. 

Pookiel McCabe lived across the hall from Sandeson in a two-storey apartment building in south-end Halifax.

Sandeson is charged in the killing of Samson, whose body has not been found.

McCabe knew Sandeson for years and considered him a friend. The two were also teammates on Dalhousie University's track team.

Heard a loud bang

McCabe testified that he and a friend were drinking at his apartment before heading downtown on Aug. 15, 2015 when they heard what McCabe described as a loud bang.

A short time later, there was a knock at McCabe's apartment door. It was Sandeson and he appeared to be in shock, McCabe testified.

He and his friend, Justin Blades, went out into the hall and McCabe noticed Sandeson's door was open. McCabe said he could see into the apartment and saw a man seated at the kitchen table with his back to the door. 

The man's face wasn't visible, but McCabe could see blood on his back and on the floor. McCabe said he also saw cash on the floor.

He and Blades returned to his apartment, but when McCabe looked in Sandeson's apartment again a short time later, the man was still sitting there. McCabe testified the man wasn't moving.

McCabe and Blades went downtown shortly after that and never talked about what they saw, he said.

Statements to police

A couple of days later, McCabe said he was at home when he heard a loud crash. He looked out and discovered police officers breaking down the door to Sandeson's apartment.

In the days immediately following Samson's disappearance, McCabe gave two statements to police in which he said he didn't see anything that night.

McCabe testified Monday he wasn't initially forthcoming because he heard Sandeson had ties to organized crime. The defence said there was no substance to those rumours.

It wasn't until October of last year, more than a year after Samson was last seen alive, that McCabe gave his third statement to police in which he reported hearing a gunshot and seeing the man.

McCabe is expected to continue testimony Tuesday.

Tips from family, public

Also on Monday, the defence attempted to show the police investigation into Samson's death may have been incomplete.

The defence peppered lead investigator Det. Const. Roger Sayer of the Halifax Regional Police with names all morning long.

They were names that had been given to police as they started a missing person's investigation into Samson's disappearance.

The names came from Samson's mother, stepmother and girlfriend.

As news of the case spread, tips also started pouring in from members of the public.

Sayer said it's typical to have a flood of information at the beginning of missing person's cases.

Turning focus on Sandeson

Under cross-examination, Sayer admitted police didn't get far with a lot of the names. He said some of them didn't want to co-operate with police and there was no way to force them.

Sayer said another reason the other names weren't followed up on was because suspicion turned to Sandeson early in the investigation. 

He disputed a defence suggestion that finding evidence against Sandeson became the sole focus.

Sayer said a major focus was, and continues to be, finding Samson's remains.

The CBC's Blair Rhodes live blogged from court.

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