NEWS
03/02/2018 21:43 EST | Updated 03/02/2018 21:44 EST

Tina Fontaine Acquittal Disappointing, Winnipeg Police Chief Says

He said it was clear the jury didn't find enough evidence to convict.

Winnipeg Deputy Police Chief Danny Smyth is shown in Winnipeg on Dec. 11, 2015.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Winnipeg Deputy Police Chief Danny Smyth is shown in Winnipeg on Dec. 11, 2015.

WINNIPEG — The chief of police in Winnipeg says the force did its best to investigate the death of a 15-year-old girl whose body was pulled from the Red River.

Danny Smyth told the city's police services board Friday that he was disappointed a jury last week acquitted the man accused of killing Tina Fontaine in 2014.

"Frankly, we did our best on this one," Smyth said.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve Lambert
Raymond Cormier is seen in this photo taken of evidence provided by the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench in Winnipeg on Feb. 2, 2018.

Raymond Cormier was found not guilty of second-degree murder in Tina's death. Her body was wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks when it was found in the Red River days after she was reported missing.

Smyth told the board he "certainly had hoped for a different outcome" but added that it was clear the jury didn't find enough evidence to convict.

"I wish we could have brought forward additional or more compelling evidence," he said.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Winnipeg Police Service
Tina Fontaine is seen in an undated handout photo.

Smyth commended the officers who he said worked hard on the case and thanked prosecutors for taking it to trial.

"If not anything else, this trial provided transparency," Smyth said. "The community was able to learn about the investigation. They were able to see evidence and learn about the circumstances that led up to Tina's death."

He suggested that one positive outcome prompted by Tina's death is that Manitoba no longer uses hotels to house children in care.

THE CANADIAN PRESS
Thelma Favel, Tina Fontaine's great-aunt and the woman who raised her, leaves the law courts with unidentified family members and supporters the day the jury began deliberations in the 2nd degree murder trial of Raymond Cormier on Feb. 21, 2018.

Tina was raised by her great-aunt, Thelma Favel, on the Sagkeeng First Nation, 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. She left to visit her mother in Winnipeg at the end of June 2014 and became an exploited youth.

Favel called Child and Family Services with concerns about Tina, who ran away repeatedly from a youth shelter and hotels where she was placed.

She was last seen leaving a downtown hotel, where she told a private contract worker employed by child welfare that she was going to a shopping centre to meet friends.

It's not known how Tina died. A pathologist testified at the trial that the girl's death was suspicious because of the manner in which her body was found.

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