Further complications have arisen in the Supreme Court trial of Afshin Ighani, 46, who is facing 10 charges in connection with the alleged armed kidnapping of two people in April 2017.
At the end of proceedings Tuesday in the Penticton courtroom, Crown prosecutor John Swanson made application to Justice Nitya Iyer to have the main witness Jodie Walker’s videotaped statement to police entered as evidence of “truth of content.”
Walker, who was one of the two people kidnapped, took the stand Monday on the opening day of the judge-only trial, reportedly testifying she remembered little of the day she gave her statement to Const. Chad Jackson at the Princeton RCMP detachment other than leaving the building.
She was also reportedly asked Monday if she recognized the person (her) in the video statement that was played in court again Tuesday, to which she replied that she didn’t.
In the video statement, she appeared worried about reprisal by Ighani, saying she was fearful of him “getting out of jail and killing me.”
At another point during her statement, Walker stopped, saying: “I think I’ve said too much.”
Her testimony came on the heels of the court learning Monday the second witness, Christopher Gliege — the man in the car with Walker and Ighani — is believed to have fled the country to the United States.
The justice has ruled however that his testimony in the preliminary hearing can be used as evidence.
After Crown’s submission, Burnaby defence attorney Paul McMurray said he’s opposing the application, adding that he would like the justice to consider the “differences” in Walker’s testimony Monday from her statement to police.
In her statement to police, Walker said that on the morning of April 22, 2017, the three set out from Okanagan Falls in Walker’s mother’s car on the way to the coast at Ighani’s request.
She said Ighani reportedly told her to turn onto a dirt road in the Manning Park area, twice telling her stop, at one point firing a shot from a handgun over the head of Gliege, who he had made get out of the car.
In her statement, Walker said she feared Ighani would kill Gliege.
They eventually left Gliege behind and made their way to a trailer park in Princeton where RCMP eventually caught up to them and Ighani was taken into custody by RCMP K-9 handler Cpl. Jason Goodfellow and police service dog Harrow.
At the time Ighani was wanted on a warrant for attempted relating to an earlier matter.
Cpl. Sean Hall of the Penticton General Investigation Service (GIS) was riding with Goodfellow at the time and testified Tuesday about the arrest.
Once they located the car with the help of the RCMP helicopter, they attempted to pull it over. When the vehicle stopped, Hall got out and went to the car.
“I approached the white Cougar, I had my pistol in my hand. At that point I recognized Afshin Ighani sitting in the passenger seat, Mr. Ighani looked over to me,” testified Hall. “Mr. Ighani looked at me like that again, and in a very calm, cold, stoic stare. As he did that, he then looked back towards the centre of the vehicle and with an overhand motion with his right hand reached over top of himself, reached towards the centre of the vehicle. At that point, I believed Mr. Ighani, or suspected Mr. Ighani, was reaching for a gun.”
Hall then got up close to the vehicle just behind the passenger door and struck the passenger window “three or four times,” trying unsuccessfully to break the glass with the butt of his handgun.
“The vehicle began to pull away,” said Hall. “At that point, I made a decision that I needed to disable the vehicle and doing so I fired one round from my service pistol into the passenger side tire.”
The shot hit the rim, not the tire, and the vehicle then sped off, Hall saying the pistol malfunctioned and was inoperative at that stage.
Goodfellow continued the pursuit in the vehicle and Hall ran after them but Ighani was eventually caught by Goodfellow and Harrow.
A search of the Cougar by police turned up the gun that Walker, in her statement, said Ighani had in his possession and that he fired earlier in the day, in the engine compartment of the car.
That revolver-style handgun was entered as evidence Tuesday.
Walker, who was also scheduled to take the stand again Tuesday, was excused to go to a doctor’s appointment but was expected to be called again when the trial resumes Wednesday morning.