BRITISH COLUMBIA

Rob Smith Found Guilty Of Killing, Burying Sandy Charlie

03/12/2014 03:43 EDT | Updated 05/12/2014 05:59 EDT
KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Fifteen years after Sandy Charlie vanished in Lytton, B.C., a man has been convicted for his death.

"I'm relieved now about what needed to be done," Charlie's common-law wife Linda Phillips said Wednesday outside court in Kamloops.

A jury convicted Rob Smith, 46, of manslaughter and interfering with a body in the death of Charlie.

Last week, jurors watched a video in which Smith confessed to an undercover Mountie that he beat Charlie unconscious, threw him down a flight of stairs and then buried his body.

Smith said he was angry because Charlie had co-operated with police, telling them Smith was involved in a domestic assault, and that landed him in jail.

But in court, Smith testified that he knocked Charlie out but didn't kill the man who was last seen in December 1999.

Court has heard Smith was a suspect as early as 2007, but he wasn't arrested due to a lack of evidence.

In September 2011, Charlie's body was accidentally unearthed by an excavator doing work on Crown land near Lytton, prompting the RCMP to launch a sting targeting Smith.

He was arrested in the summer of 2012.

Before jurors began deliberating Tuesday, defence lawyer Don Campbell urged them to consider the lack of physical evidence, apart from the videotaped confession, tying Smith to the slaying.

He noted there were no witnesses and also questioned the RCMP's undercover investigation technique, involving officers posing as gangsters to gain the suspects' trust.

But Crown lawyer Tim Livingston asked jurors to go with "what makes sense."

He said Smith would not have lied in the videotaped confession, given the extent to which the undercover Mounties went to impress upon him the importance of honesty in their fictitious criminal organization. (CHNL, The Canadian Press)

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