02/19/2014 04:08 EST | Updated 04/21/2014 05:59 EDT

Trial hears man's body accidentally unearthed by excavator outside B.C. home

KAMLOOPS, B.C. - The trial into the murder of a Lytton, B.C., man has heard the victim's body was accidentally unearthed by an excavator more than a decade after he disappeared.

But cold-case homicide detectives kept the discovery a secret in the hope that Sandy Charlie's killer would lead them to the crime scene, B.C. Supreme Court heard.

Charlie's body was found in 2011 while work was being done outside a home in the Fraser Canyon community.

The following year, Robert Smith was charged with manslaughter and interference with a body in connection with the death of Charlie, who was last seen in December 1999.

Court heard Tuesday that the renovation work was being done at the home where Smith's former girlfriend once lived.

RCMP Sgt. Chris Drotkr testified that he was involved in the investigation into Charlie’s death on and off beginning in 2005.

In 2006, a search warrant was executed at the house, and Drotkr said Smith became a suspect after that.

Smith was interviewed in Abbotsford, where he was living at the time, but was not arrested due to a lack of evidence, court heard.

That changed in 2011, when Charlie's body was found.

Drotkr said he decided not to publicize the discovery, only notifying the victim's immediate family.

“I decided that if this investigation did go to the undercover homicide technique it would be best if the public did not know Mr. Charlie had been found,” he said.

“It would be the best if Mr. Smith brought us to the location where (Charlie) had been found, without the public knowing it.”

An undercover investigation began in May 2012.

The jury has heard Smith told undercover Mounties how he killed Charlie and buried his body.

The Crown is expected to call 20 witnesses. (Kamloops This Week)