Canada

Sting operation helps convict Manitoba man of murder

Elaborate RCMP sting operation helps convict Manitoba man of 1st-degree murder in death of his girlfriend, buried in another person's grave.

An intricate RCMP sting operation helped convict a Manitoba man of first-degree murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend, whom he buried in an elderly woman's grave.

Jurors in the trial of Michael Bridges deliberated for less than seven hours to reach the verdict Wednesday night. The 25-year-old will spend 25 years in prison with no chance for parole.

Justice John Menzies told Bridges he felt alarmed by the "callousness" of Bridge's actions and said he showed a "cold, calculating, criminal" mind.

Bridges confessed to an undercover officer posing as a member of a crime gang that he choked Erin Chorney in April 2002 when she refused to drop assault charges against him.

He admitted he panicked when she became unconscious and decided to "finish her off" by strangling her with an electrical cord and submerging her head in water.

"I'm sorry for all the grief that I caused to the Chorney family," said Bridges in court.

A family friend spoke on behalf of the girl's parents, Darcy and Debbie Chorney.

"Now they just want to carry on," Sherilyn Bambridge told the Canadian Press.

RCMP sets out elaborate operation to snare Bridges

The RCMP created their sting two years after Chorney died. They wanted to convince the young man to join a crime gang and make money, but in order to become a member, he had to confess to past crimes to a "Boss."

First, they lured him to Calgary by saying he had won free tickets to a Calgary Flames game. There, he struck up a friendship with an undercover officer, Agent X, who posed as a fellow contest winner and a member of the fake gang.

Agent X convinced Bridges that he could make a lot of money and even staged a beating of a female colleague to demonstrate what would happen to those who lied to the Boss. Agent X actually faked his punches, while the woman spit out blood capsules to add to the effect.

Bridges met with Agent X to practise for his meeting with the Boss, detailing how he killed Chorney. The meeting was secretly videotaped.

He revealed he hid Chorney's body in a freshly dug grave and drew a map to the spot in a Brandon cemetery. RCMP investigators found the grave and in the winter of 2004, thawed the ground and dug it up.

During conversations with undercover officers, Bridges said he was "too pretty to go to jail" and looked forward to starting a new life.

"He's not too pretty to be convicted of this offence," said Crown prosecutor Bob Morrison in his closing arguments.

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