Courts

Ex-Mountie trial: witness says drug thefts could go unnoticed

Defence begins calling witnesses in Craig Robert Burnett trial

An RCMP employee who worked with the Halifax drug unit said he might not notice an employee  stealing drugs from an exhibit locker.

“If they came in with a bag and put something in that bag and walked out, I might not be aware of that,” said Staff Sgt. Mark MacLeod in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Thursday.

MacLeod was the one to let people into the evidence units. He testified for the defence in the trial of Craig Robert Burnett. Burnett, a now-retired RCMP officer, is accused of stealing 10 kilograms of cocaine from an exhibit locker between 2010 and 2011.

MacLeod told the court he would sometimes be occupied with other tasks, such as answering messages on his Blackberry, while someone else was handling the exhibits. He also said an employee coming in with a bag was not uncommon.

All of the lockers, said MacLeod, were under lock and key.

There was a logbook inside the locker itself, he said, but MacLeod himself wouldn’t always sign it, if he was just going in to inspect something damaged around the exhibits.

Burnett is alleged to have stolen the cocaine, and then given it to his friend Scott Rowlings, who in turn gave it to their friend Michael Kanasevich to sell. The Crown alleges the money was split three ways.

2011 vacation questioned

Burnett’s niece Kirsti Burnett testified earlier Thursday. She said Rowlings was present at a family vacation her family took to Saint Martin in 2011, but she did not see Rowlings and her uncle having a conversation alone. If they were, she said, it would have been for less than a minute.

She said she was with her uncle for most of the trip, and did not drink enough alcohol for her memory to be impaired.

The seven charges against Burnett include stealing cocaine valued at more than $5,000, two breaches of trust, transfer of property that was a result of an offence, trafficking a substance, obstructing a police officer by counselling a witness to lie and intent to mislead.

The Crown closed its case Thursday morning, and the defence began presenting witnesses Thursday afternoon. The judge-only trial is expected to conclude Feb. 26.