COURTS

Former Mountie trial: cocaine was not in regular storage

Witness in Craig Robert Burnett trial says Mounties must trust their own

Cocaine allegedly stolen from an RCMP evidence locker was not stored in a regular exhibit room, but kept in a parking lot shipping container, court heard Monday.

RCMP commissionaire John Connolly testified officers moved the cocaine and other evidence out of the exhibit room at the former RCMP headquarters on Oxford Street. He said this was because the exhibit room had been leaking water.

“If it heavy rains, water came into it,” Connolly said. “In the end they took everything out of it and brought in the sea containers and put the stuff in there.”

Connolly was testifying at the trial of former RCMP officer Craig Robert Burnett, 51, who is accused of stealing 10 kilograms of cocaine from the RCMP evidence locker between 2010 and 2011. Burnett has pleaded not guilty to seven charges: theft of cocaine, trafficking of cocaine, breach of trust, laundering proceeds of a crime, fabrication of evidence and obstruction of an officer in the execution of duty.

No standard protocol

RCMP Const. Edward Clarke also testified Monday. He said the shipping containers had locks and alarm systems, but he didn’t know if they had surveillance cameras.

“I feel that the sea containers aren’t as secure a location as the main locker because they’re outside the building,” Clarke said.

In cross-examination, defence lawyer David Bright asked Clarke if the RCMP has a national standardized protocol or protocol within each division for handling exhibits. Clarke said he was not aware of any such protocol.

Honesty policy

When handling evidence, officers must trust their colleagues, Clarke said.

“Trust plays a key role in our whole procedure,” he said. “We’re not on defence against each other … everything we do is about preparation for outside threats and other criminal elements.”

Bright asked Clarke if he would have noticed tampered evidence, such as cocaine that had been replaced with kitty litter.

“I don’t know what kitty litter is like,” Clarke said. “I don’t have a cat.”

The trial will resume Tuesday before Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice James L. Chipman.