KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Undercover officers plied a murder suspect with promises of big money as a member of a criminal gang in order to gain a confession that he murdered his girlfriend by bashing her head with a hammer, a court has heard.
Robert Balbar's lawyer Jim Blazina provided detailed accounts of the increasingly elaborate sting set up by the RCMP.
In mid-November 2007, Balbar, now 42, was flowed to Montreal by undercover Mounties with the premise of meeting with a supposed crime boss.
A Mountie who was part of the operation, and can't be named in court, has testified that an officer posing as a gang member asked for a $200,000 loan in order to set up an escort business.
Court heard Balbar, who is charged with second-degree murder in the 2003 death of Heather Hamill, his girlfriend of two years, was made part of the negotiations, which resulted in an agreed $10,000-a-month in interest as payment for the loan.
Balbar's undercover RCMP contact promised him a monthly job of travelling to Nanaimo, B.C., to pick up the payment and books from the associate.
"You're looking after Mr. Balbar's interests," Blazina told the undercover RCMP operative in court. "He's got the Montreal job once a month and the Nanaimo job once a month. It's good steady income for him."
Court has already heard that when police launched the undercover operation, officers were advised to use language that degraded women, a jury has heard.
The undercover officer said police also had to be racist in an attempt to gain the suspect's trust.
“In this undercover operation, I was playing a member of a criminal organization — somewhat of a professional criminal with a rougher edge,” said the RCMP officer before a jury heard a recording.
The jury heard audio that was recorded in Vancouver on Dec. 6, 2007 — more than two months into the so-called Mr. Big sting targeting Balbar.
He can be heard talking with the Mountie following a staged meeting in a hotel bar involving the supposed leader of a fictitious criminal organization.
In the recording, Balbar was told that the purported crime boss would be looking into his past.
The officer asked if he would find anything that could put “heat” on the gang. Initially, Balbar said he was suspected of killing “a couple people" in Kamloops, B.C.
"My girlfriend got whacked and a few other people got whacked and they’re trying to say it was me,” Balbar said.
“Why didn’t you tell me about this before?” the undercover officer replied.
“How many are we talking about?”
“Maybe four guys, one girl,” Balbar replied. “They’re nobody,” the officer said.
Balbar said he didn’t think he "had heat” on him. But he soon retreated from his claim about four men being killed and confessed to murdering Hamill.
“She got whacked out and went nutty,” Balbar said. “So, I whacked her upside the head with a hammer.”
“What’s the big deal about that?” the officer asked, dismissing the victim with a couple of vulgarities. The Mountie implied he had murdered multiple women.
“You know how many people I’ve whacked?” he said, using an expletive. “You know how long I’ve been doing this?"
"I know how to do it right," he said. Five days later, Balbar and the undercover officer were in Kamloops when they were pulled over by Mounties in a staged traffic stop.
RCMP Cpl. Andre Mathieu approached Balbar and fingered him for Hamill’s death.
“I know you killed her and I’ll be back for you, Mr. Balbar,” he said.
The undercover Mountie then set in motion a plan for the supposed criminal organization to “clean up" after Balbar.
The jury has already seen video of Balbar’s subsequent meeting with the crime boss, at which he confessed to killing Hamill with a hammer and dumping her body in the North Thompson River.
Her body was discovered by a jogger at Indian Point on Aug. 1, 2003. She was last heard from on July 28 that year, when she spoke on the phone to her daughter.
This is Balbar's second murder trial on the same case. (Kamloops this week)