Accused murderer Douglas Hales' confession questioned

Douglas Hales' defence contends a three-month long undercover operation changed the accused's personality, encouraging him to exaggerate about his involvement in Daleen Bosse's death.

Defence contends undercover operation changed Hales' personality

Six years after Douglas Hales led undercover police to Daleen Bosse's remains, his lawyer questions whether the accused murderer's confessions were truly reliable and voluntary.

Hales was charged with first-degree murder August 10, 2008, three days after he confessed to an RCMP officer posing as a criminal. Hales said he killed the 25 year-old mother, and burned her. 

Bosse was last seen with Hales four years earlier, the night the student teacher disappeared from a Saskatoon nightclub. 

  • CBC's Jennifer Quesnel is tweeting live from the courtroom. For the latest updates, head to the bottom of this page

Throughout the trial, Hales' lawyer has contended Bosse may have died of alcohol poisoning, while questioning the techniques used by undercover RCMP officers during a three-month sting operation.

Hales eager to please

Hales was unemployed and living in a duplex in White Fox with his common-law wife and infant son when undercover agents first approached him.

Security guards escort Douglas Hales from Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench. Hales is charged with first-degree murder in the 2004 death of Daleen Kay Bosse. (CBC)
Defence lawyer Bob Hrycan suggested Hales was eager to earn money from the agents who posed as car repossession men. Hrycan said the "socially inept, withdrawn" young father made it clear he'd go to any length to remain friends with the men who kept him running errands for a fictitious criminal organization.

Confessing to Mr. Big

A huge proportion of people confess to having committed a false crime when under stress- Marc Patry, St. Mary's University psychologist

For weeks, the defence has argued the so-called "Mr. Big" technique RCMP use to elicit confessions can be remarkably effective at generating false admissions.

The sting typically involves befriending a suspect over several months, then encouraging the suspect to meet a fake crime boss, coming clean about any potential misdeeds.

The undercover RCMP officers involved in the Hales case insist the accused knew he could leave their fictitious criminal organization at any time. They also said their goal was to seek the truth, not to elicit false information.

Hales' lawyer argued undercover officers encouraged the accused to make crude, degrading statements, and to exaggerate his claims.

Likelihood of false confessions

On Tuesday, Hrycan called the head of St. Mary's University's psychology department to testify. Marc Patry has spent years studying confessions and human behaviour. Patry testified social bonding and stress can affect human behaviour.

"Suspects in Canada have more restricted rights to counsel than those in other jurisdictions," Patry said. "A huge proportion of people confess to having committed a false crime when under stress."

Patry has watched surveillance video, including Hales' confession to Saskatoon major crimes investigators in 2008, shortly after his arrest. However, Justice Gerry Allbright stopped short of letting Patry share his opinions on it.

"He has to see something in this entire picture that I can't see," said Allbright, noting Hales has no handicaps or vulnerabilities that would make his admissions to Saskatoon police harder to judge. 

However, Allbright said Patry may have an opportunity today to comment further on the RCMP's "Mr. Big" techniques. 

Hrycan has not said if he plans to call any other other witnesses following that.

He has not disclosed whether he will put Hales in the witness box.

CBC's Jennifer Quesnel is tweeting live from the courtroom. Follow along for the latest updates below.