BRITISH COLUMBIA

Kwesi Millington Trial Postponed Until The Fall

03/13/2014 02:32 EDT | Updated 05/13/2014 05:59 EDT
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VANCOUVER - The Crown will be permitted to present evidence at the perjury trial of an RCMP officer to allege he and three other Mounties colluded to fake a story about Robert Dziekanski's death, but the trial itself has been postponed until the fall.

Const. Kwesi Millington is on trial for perjury in connection with his testimony at a public inquiry that examined what happened when Dziekanski was stunned with a Taser at Vancouver's airport in October 2007.

All four officers were charged with perjury. One of them, Const Bill Bentley, was acquitted last year, while two others are still awaiting trial.

Millington's lawyer argued the Crown should not be able to claim the officer colluded with the other Mounties before providing statements to investigators on the night of Dziekanski's death, because a judge already rejected the same theory at Bentley's trial.

But Judge William Ehrcke denied Millington's application on Thursday, concluding the legal principle the officer's lawyer attempted to use only applies in cases in which the same person is on trial.

"Clearly, Mr. Millington was not on trial with Const. Bentley when (Judge Mark) McEwan rendered his judgment," Ehrcke told the court, as Millington sat in the prisoner's dock.

"There is not a sufficient degree of identification between Mr. Millington and Const. Bentley to hold that the decision to which one was party should be binding on proceedings to which the other is party."

After Ehrcke read his decision on the defence application, the trial was adjourned until Oct. 31, with 15 days set aside to hear evidence.

The four officers went to Vancouver's airport in the early morning hours of Oct. 14, 2007, in response to a 911 call about a man throwing furniture in the international terminal.

The officers quickly surrounded Dziekanski, a newly arrived Polish immigrant who did not speak English, and Millington repeatedly stunned him with a Taser. Dziekanski died on the airport floor.

An amateur video of the incident appeared to contradict the official story from the RCMP and prompted the B.C. government to call a public inquiry, which heard evidence in two phases in 2008 and 2009.

The officers told the inquiry that Dziekanski posed a threat when he picked up a stapler.

At Bentley's trial, the Crown argued similarities between the four officers' notes and police statements proved they worked together to concoct a story.

The Crown alleged the officers then lied at the public inquiry to cover up their deceit.

However, the judge said the Crown failed to prove Bentley lied at any point during the inquiry and that there were other reasonable explanations for what he said.

In Millington's case, the Crown has added a new allegation that the officers got together to discuss the case shortly before their testimony at the public inquiry.

Earlier this week, the Crown revealed a new witness who is expected to testify at the trial: the former common-law spouse of Bentley's cousin. The witness, Janice Norgard, is expected to say the four officers met privately at her house in the lead-up to the inquiry, the Crown told the court.

Millington has pleaded not guilty and his lawyer hasn't had an opportunity to formally respond to Norgard's anticipated evidence.

Former corporal Benjamin (Monty) Robinson's trial is currently scheduled to begin in late May, and Const. Gerry Rundel is expected to stand trial in the fall.

The Crown is appealing Bentley's acquittal.

The trials are happening five years after the public inquiry and seven years after Dziekanski's death.

Outside court on Thursday, Crown counsel Eric Gottardi said he's concerned about the delays that have plagued the perjury cases.

"We tried to move this thing along as fast as we could," he said. "Certainly, we're not pleased with how quickly it's gone."

Gottardi said one of the reasons the Crown decided to put the officers on trial separately was to avoid the sorts of delays caused when the schedules for multiple lawyers representing multiple people must be co-ordinated.

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