Kid­nap­ping trial halted for check of jail calls

Al­leged vic­tim says in po­lice in­ter­view she was in reg­u­lar con­tact with ac­cused by phone

Penticton Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE FRIES

An al­leged kid­nap­per’s trial came to a screech­ing halt Wed­nes­day in Pen­tic­ton after a record­ing of a re­cent po­lice in­ter­view sur­faced in which one of the vic­tims told po­lice she had been in reg­u­lar con­tact with the ac­cused.

Jodie Walker also de­tailed for po­lice her al­leged kid­nap­ping by Af­shin Maleki Ighani and the events sur­round­ing it — de­spite tes­ti­fy­ing Mon­day she had no mem­ory of the in­ci­dent.

Ighani’s trial was promptly put on hold un­til Jan. 7 to al­low po­lice time to get a war­rant for records of his jailhouse calls.

The 47-year-old Ighani, who also goes by the name Rai, is ac­cused of tak­ing Walker and her then­boyfriend Christo­pher Gliege cap­tive on April 22, 2017, while driv­ing be­tween Okana­gan Falls and the Lower Main­land.

Ighani, who’s be­ing tried by judge alone in B.C. Supreme Court, has pleaded not guilty to 10 of­fences, in­clud­ing two counts of kid­nap­ping us­ing a firearm and as­sault with a weapon.

Court heard Walker, 22, was in­ter­viewed by po­lice on Oct. 18, 2018, in re­gard to the Au­gust mur­der of Jesse McKnight in Oliver. She gave birth to McKnight’s child in Septem­ber.

In a record­ing of the in­ter­view, Walker told of­fi­cers: “I talk to Rai all the time. I mean, Rai calls from jail or what­ever.”

After fur­ther prompt­ing, she con­tin­ued: “He’s the one who kid­napped me last year with, like, a firearm or what­ever, and I have to go to court on com­ing up in De­cem­ber here.”

One of the of­fi­cers asked why, and Walker replied: “Be­cause he had a whole bunch of drugs got stolen from him and he thought I knew some­thing about it, which I did not.”

Walker, who was called back to tes­tify at the trial Wed­nes­day morn­ing, con­firmed it was her voice on the tape, but de­nied hav­ing con­tact with Ighani.

She also stuck to her ear­lier claim she couldn’t re­mem­ber any­thing about the al­leged kid­nap­ping, de­tails of which she also pro­vided to po­lice in a sep­a­rate state­ment the day of the in­ci­dent.

De­fence coun­sel Paul McMur­ray said Ighani told him Walker’s claim they’ve spo­ken since his ar­rest is “ab­so­lutely false.”

McMur­ray then asked that his cross-ex­am­i­na­tion of Walker be de­layed un­til po­lice have a chance to ob­tain Ighani’s jailhouse call records, be­cause they could have “sig­nif­i­cant bear­ing on Ms. Walker’s cred­i­bil­ity.”

Gliege, the other al­leged kid­nap­ping vic­tim, has ap­par­ently fled to the U.S., and the Crown will be re­ly­ing in­stead on his tes­ti­mony at a pre­lim­i­nary in­quiry ear­lier this year.

Walker said in her ini­tial po­lice state­ment Ighani had of­fered her and Gliege $400 for a ride from Okana­gan Falls to the Lower Main­land.

As they drove through Man­ning Park, she said, Ighani had her turn onto a log­ging road. Ighani then twice or­dered Gliege out the car, and on one oc­ca­sion pointed a gun at Gliege’s head and fired it in the air.

Gliege was left to walk back to safety, while Walker and Ighani drove to a mo­bile home park in Prince­ton, where po­lice caught up to them by track­ing Walker’s cell­phone.

Ighani, who’s still await­ing trial for al­legedly as­sault­ing two pris­on­ers and a guard at the Okana­gan Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre, is no stranger to the courts, hav­ing been sen­tenced in 2007 to 42 months in prison for his con­nec­tion to an Oliver drug ring.

The na­tive of Iran was or­dered de­ported after that con­vic­tion, but his de­par­ture was stayed be­cause he faced the death penalty in his home coun­try, ac­cord­ing to a source with knowl­edge of the mat­ter.


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