Retired RCMP officer
faces perjury charge
over murder trial testimony
Kim Bolan, Vancouver Sun, Jan. 11, 2011
A retired Mountie who testified at the trial of serial killer Robert Pickton
is facing one count of perjury relating to testimony given before the
B.C. Supreme Court in May 2009 in another murder case.
Photo: Vancouver Sun files.
METRO VANCOUVER A retired Mountie, who testified at the trial of serial killer Robert Pickton, is facing one count of perjury relating to testimony given before the BC Supreme Court in May 2009 in another murder case.
Retired S.Sgt. Ross Spenard, who was with the RCMP for 32 years, is alleged to have perjured himself while testifying as a bloodstain pattern analyst expert at the trial of a mother charged with killing her baby.
RCMP Sgt. Rob Vermeulen said in a release that a code of conduct review got underway as soon as the RCMP became aware of the allegations in 2009. That process stopped when Spenard retired in 2010, he said.
And Vermeulen said all of Spenards bloodstain pattern analysis files have been subjected to a thorough review process and that no significant concerns arose from those file reviews.
Spenard is due to make his first appearance in Vancouver Provincial Court on Feb. 17. Perjury carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.
During his May 2009 testimony at the trial of Charlie Rae Lincoln, Spenard admitted he lied when Lincolns lawyer Matt Nathanson confronted him with documents that contradicted his testimony.
The exchange led both the Crown and trial judge to direct the jury to disregard all of Spenards evidence.
In fact, Justice John Truscott told the jury that Spenard is the perfect example of a person who clearly lied under oath, and violated his oath to tell the truth.
That conclusion is so clear and convincing, and so serious, that I suggest you should consider his evidence to be completely tainted and without any value whatsoever, Truscott told the jury, who still convicted Lincoln of second-degree murder for fatally stabbing baby Hope.
Nathanson said in a telephone interview Tuesday that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the merits of the Crowns perjury case against Spenard since it is now before the courts.
But he said generally speaking, it is extremely serious when a witness takes an oath to tell the truth and fails to do so.
Nathanson, who is vacationing out of the country, said it is even worse when professional witnesses like police officers breach their oaths to testify truthfully.
The administration of justice depends on complete candour on the part of the police, Nathanson said.
Lawyer David Layton is handling Lincolns appeal. No date has yet been fixed for the appeal, Layton said.
He echoed Nathanson in saying it would be inappropriate to comment on the perjury charge given that it is before the courts. During the Lincoln trial, Spenard was exposed as the author of a damning forensic report that was later found by other experts in the field to be not scientifically sound.
The veteran Mountie had initially claimed the flawed report had been written by another police officer, but acknowledged under cross-examination to misleading the court and failing to send a letter to the Crown in the case revealing concerns about the report and his errors.
Justice Turcott acknowledged to the jury that the Crown was not relying on Spenards evidence after the officer admitted it was untruthful.
I also suggest your totally ignore his evidence, Truscott said.
Vancouver Police conducted the criminal investigation into Spenards testimony.
VPD said in a news release that it recommended the charge of perjury, which was approved by Crown counsel.
The perjury became evident during the course of the trial through disclosure requests sought by defence counsel. While under cross-examination, Spenard admitted to not telling the whole truth in his earlier testimony, Vancouver Police said.
In September 2009, a formal complaint was also made by Regional Crown Counsel to the Vancouver Police Department to investigate any Criminal Code offences arising from Spenards conduct.
Around the time in question, Spenard also testified at the trial of Charles Overall, who was convicted of second degree murder in the death of Jason Garrow.