Suspended Mountie facing perjury charge

Former Summerland officer on trial again for allegedly lying during previous court appearance on off-duty assault charge

One line of testimony came under fire for a former South Okanagan RCMP officer whose trial for a charge of perjury was before a judge this week.

It is alleged that former Summerland and Penticton Cpl. Andre Turcotte, who is currently suspended without pay, lied while testifying in a 2010 trial in which he was found guilty of assaulting Ian Scott Campbell while he was off-duty. Turcotte has since started studying to be an electrician and is close to becoming a journeyman.

“The accused clearly provided false evidence that date and it was to mislead the court,” said Crown counsel Bill Hilderman during his closing argument on Wednesday.

Campbell was beaten unconscious and suffered a concussion and soft tissue injury to his ribs when Turcotte assaulted him on Highway 97 in Summerland in 2007.

Turcotte received a 60-day conditional sentence and one-year probation.

Judge Dev Dley noted in his decision then that Turcotte’s statements to the RCMP about the incident were “misleading.”

After Turcotte found out he was being investigated for the assault, he requested a transfer to the Kelowna RCMP detachment which was denied. Instead, he was transferred to Penticton which led to Turcotte having four to five dealings with Campbell and, the former Mountie said, he eventually took a leave of absence because of a mental breakdown.

He later returned to the RCMP in Kelowna.

The perjury charge is unrelated to the actual assault. It stems from a line of questioning while Turcotte was testifying about incidents after the assault took place where he had contact with the victim.

Turcotte testified on Wednesday that he was answering the question when he was “bombarded” with other questions and simply tried to answer the lead question which he believed was important and that is why there is confusion on what he said.

During the assault trial Crown asked Turcotte about the multiple times he searched police computers for files on Campbell, suggesting he was using it inappropriately.

Of importance to the Crown’s evidence on the perjury charge was Turcotte’s response about a time when Campbell came in to get fingerprinted.

Turcotte said the front desk person passed him paperwork in the back area and when he peaked to see who was at the front desk he saw Campbell and was uncomfortable dealing with the situation so he  “did some search, got someone to take his prints and did the work up.”

Campbell was scheduled on a promise to appear notice to get fingerprinted on Feb. 18, 2007.

He testified earlier this week that he believed that was the date he came in and the fingerprinting documents from the RCMP showed that the prints were taken on that date. Crown evidence showed Turcotte was not actually working on that date.

Turcotte said he did not know the date Campbell came in but was sure it was not Feb. 18 and that what he meant when he provided his answer was that he went to the back got the physical file and left it on a fellow RCMP officers desk telling them he was not going to fingerprint the person and told them the file is on his desk before he left the office.

Turcotte said he did not follow up to see if his fellow officers actually got Campbell’s fingerprints.

Defence counsel Jack Harris said there is not dispute that Campbell got his fingerprints done on Feb. 18, but did leave the suggestion open if Campbell had come in before his scheduled date to see if RCMP could accommodate him.

Hilderman called Turcotte’s testimony in the perjury trial “suspicious evidence” and that the event of Campbell coming into the police detachment to get fingerprinted would have been a “very momentus” thing to remember because of the situation he was in with an investigation looming over the assault at the time.

Crown counsel said it was also suspicious that Turcotte could not provide a date he believed Campbell went in so more of an investigation could be done.

He went on to say that to believe Turcotte was answering a line of questioning that in transcripts was pages earlier and not the question he had before him made no sense.

Hilderman also had Turcotte admit that some of the information that he had found in the police computer searches, as well as other information provided to him by RCMP and municipal staff, was later relayed to his lawyer when he was formally charged and it was used in the assault trial.

“He was caught up in a lie that he was not watch commander that day and gave evidence that is not true in court,” said Hilderman.

Justice Peter Butler said he will return to court on Friday at 2 p.m. with his decision.