In­ves­ti­ga­tion ‘got off to a very bad start right off the bat’

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of the case.

“Their in­ves­ti­ga­tion was marred by pro­ce­dural er­rors, ne­glect, lack of dili­gence, and fail­ure to pro­vide the Crown with the ap­pro­pri­ate de­liv­er­ables in a timely man­ner,” he said.

He also said in­ves­ti­ga­tors failed to con­duct ap­pro­pri­ate in­ter­views or, if they did carry them out, to make ap­pro­pri­ate record of them. One ex­am­ple was the pos­si­bil­ity of another per­son be­ing in­side the home, but there was no in­di­ca­tion po­lice fol­lowed up on that pos­si­bil­ity, or even why it was dropped.

Mitchell was also tasked with look­ing at the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Truro Po­lice Ser­vice to­day, which he said is a much dif­fer­ent force than in 2005.

“I’m quite sat­is­fied with the cur­rent ca­pac­ity to deal with any kind of case, ma­jor cases in­cluded,” said Mitchell.

That’s be­cause of a num­ber of things, in­clud­ing a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with the RCMP whereas a mem­ber of the Truro Po­lice Ser­vice is em­bed­ded with the RCMP’s ma­jor crime unit in the area. That of­fi­cer, said Mitchell, gets reg­u­lar ex­po­sure and ex­pe­ri­ence in ma­jor crimes, which they can then share with their col­leagues. The Truro Po­lice Ser­vice can also call on the RCMP when they need a co­or­di­nated team of in­ves­ti­ga­tors to as­sist on ma­jor crimes.

Along with the po­lice han­dling of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Mitchell looked at the re­view done by the De­part­ment of Jus­tice. He said any sim­i­lar in­ves­ti­ga­tions should see an or­der made un­der Sec­tion 7 of the Po­lice Act, which would give in­ves­ti­ga­tors ac­cess to more doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing in­ter­nal per­son­nel files.

While Mitchell’s re­view found the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was han­dled poorly, he said it’s im­pos­si­ble to say the out­come would have been any dif­fer­ent if it been bet­ter han­dled.

“It’s im­pos­si­ble to know what, if any, rel­e­vant ev­i­dence might have been found and there’s al­ways the pos­si­bil­ity that if they did find ev­i­dence it might have been ex­on­er­at­ing ev­i­dence. You have to look at that as well,” he said.

Mitchell is mak­ing a num­ber of rec­om­men­da­tions as a re­sult of his re­view, which Jus­tice Min­is­ter Diana Whalen said, through a news re­lease, would be ac­cepted.

The re­port rec­om­mends the De­part­ment of Jus­tice:

--con­duct reg­u­lar au­dits of mu­nic­i­pal po­lice ser­vices, in­clud­ing Truro, to en­sure they main­tain pro­fes­sional stan­dards

-- en­sure small mu­nic­i­pal po­lice ser­vices have ready ac­cess to trained sup­port and as­sis­tance in in­ves­ti­gat­ing ma­jor crimes

--in fu­ture in­ter­nal re­views of po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions, Jus­tice de­part­ment staff be pro­vided au­thor­ity un­der Sec. 7 of the Po­lice Act

-- po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors seek out le­gal ad­vice from the Crown coun­sel as soon as prac­ti­cal dur­ing a ma­jor crime in­ves­ti­ga­tion

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