Scales of justice
A key Crown witness in the trial of a 22-year-old Charlottetown man charged with the commission of a robbery/home invasion last year in Emyvale was declared an adverse witness Tuesday by a Supreme Court judge.
Supreme Court Justice Gordon Campbell declared Chase Roper to be an adverse, or hostile, witness during the trial of Derry Ian Bird.
Bird is alleged to have been Roper’s partner in the robbery of convicted drug dealer Dean Fairhurst in May of 2012.
Roper has already pleaded guilty to that offence and is serving time at Dorchester Penitentiary. He was called to testify for the Crown on Monday but immediately upon taking the stand there were problems with his testimony.
When asked Monday who had committed the robbery with him, Roper said it was somebody he didn’t really know, somebody he just met.
That contradicted statements given to police and prompted the Crown to ask him if he recalled making statements to the police. Roper replied no to that question.
As a consequence he was sent back to the provincial correctional centre for the night Monday with transcripts from the interviews to read in order to refresh his memory.
On Tuesday, Wedge played an interview with Roper recorded by the RCMP’s lead investigator. Wedge then put a series of questions to Roper about that taped interview during a voir dire, which is essentially a hearing within a hearing.
The questions posed during a voir dire and the responses to those questions cannot be published or broadcast.
But subsequent to that voir dire Campbell made his declaration that Roper was an adverse witness, basing that ruling on the contents of the video and the exchange between Roper and Wedge during the voir dire.
“He is not interested in giving evidence fairly,” Campbell said of Roper. “He has no desire to tell the truth. He’s unco-operative. I am satisfied that he is both hostile and adverse.”
A second voir dire was then held to address the contents of Roper’s statements. Campbell granted Wedge permission to cross-examine Roper on his statements. She addressed statement after statement in which Roper had laid out the scenario for the Fairhurst robbery, statements which for the most part Roper now claims he simply made up.
Wedge also questioned Roper about an incident at Dorchester. Specifically she asked Roper whether or not he had told an RCMP officer that other inmates at Dorchester were calling him a rat, a derogatory term usually reserved for people who talk to the police or cooperate with the Crown.
Roper denied making that statement to the officer. Several witnesses are still to testify for the Crown, a number of whom are, like Roper, serving time in federal or provincial correctional facilities.
Bird is himself a federal inmate, serving time for drug offences and multiple breaches of probation.