Chase Roper recants testimony he gave at a previous trial for Derry Bird in second day of Jason Yeo's trial
Scales of justice
There was a dramatic development Tuesday in Prince Edward Island Supreme Court at the trial of Jason Yeo, a Charlottetown man charged in connection with an armed robbery/home invasion in May of 2012 in Emyvale.
That development came in the form of testimony from Crown witness Chase Roper.
Roper, who’s currently serving a four-year federal sentence for his part in that Emyvale robbery, testified Monday that he robbed convicted drug dealer Dean Fairhurst while in the company of someone he’d just met named Slash.
But on Tuesday Roper recanted that statement, telling Justice Benjamin Taylor that he had actually committed the robbery with Derry Bird.
He testified that he had made up the story about committing the robbery with "Slash" because he didn’t want people to think he was a “rat”, a scenario which could have made life behind bars even more difficult than it already is for him.
Roper, who told the court that Corrections Canada is planning to move him to another facility for his own safety, then testified to Yeo’s knowledge of the robbery.
The Crown has alleged that Yeo coerced Roper and Bird to commit the robbery, named the target, showed them where the victim lived, provided the guns that were used and received the drugs and pills taken from Fairhurst's residence.
Roper confirmed a number of those allegations Tuesday.
He testified he committed the robbery to get drugs and money, both of which he needed to pay down a debt he owed to Yeo.
He told the court Yeo believed he (Roper) owed him $15,000 because of an incident in Montreal a month before the robbery.
Roper, his girlfriend, Jennifer Wakelin, Yeo and Yeo’s girlfriend, Samantha Keenan, had traveled there together.
During that trip police were called to their hotel room and subsequently seized upwards of $30,000 in cash.
Roper said Yeo told him the fact the police were called was half his fault therefore he had to come good for half of that $30,000.
He said it was at some point after that Yeo suggested committing the robbery would be an easy way for him to pay back the $15,000 he owed.
The court was told that a day or so before the robbery Yeo drove Roper and Bird to Emyvale and showed them where Fairhurst lived.
Roper also testified that the handgun and the shotgun used in the robbery had been given to them by Yeo earlier in the year.
Neither of the guns was actually loaded.
Roper said the robbery yielded a large quantity of prescription pills and 200 to 300 grams of cocaine.
Almost all of that was turned over to Yeo a week later, he testified.
In exchange for the drugs Roper said Yeo reduced his debt by $10,000.
Asked about the actual robbery Roper said he, Bird, Wakelin and MacLean drove to Fairhurst’s residence that night and that he and Bird, armed with guns, entered the house while the women stayed in the car.
He said he held Fairhurst at gunpoint while Bird searched for drugs and money.
Roper said he kicked Fairhurst several times.
Fairhurst told them where the pills were but they found the cocaine on their own.
No money was found.
He said they took the guns to his house and stashed them outside.
He also testified that the decision to carry the guns was their decision, that Yeo did not tell them to use guns.
Tuesday’s evidence differed significantly from the evidence Roper gave at the robbery trial of co-accused Derry Bird when he said his partner was not Bird but Slash.
His evidence at that trial resulted in a charge of perjury.
Asked Tuesday if he’d been promised a break on the perjury charge for his testimony in this trial, he said he was not.
It should be noted that a verdict has not yet come down in the Bird trial.
That verdict is expected next month.
Earlier Tuesday the court heard testimony from Jennifer Wakelin who testified as to her recollections of the robbery.
She recounted the sequence of events leading up to the robbery, starting with her being picked up at work.
She stated that before going to Emyvale they made a number of stops.
One of the first stops was at Jason Yeo's residence.
She said that at that residence Chase Roper and Derry Bird went into another room with Yeo to talk.
She did not know what the nature of their conversation was.
She said they then stopped at another residence where Roper and Bird changed into dark clothes.
Fairhurst's residence was the next stop.
Wakelin said they parked a short distance from the house.
Dressed in black with their faces covered Roper and Bird made their way to the house.
Fifteen minutes later they returned to the vehicle and drove away.
Questioned as to whether she and Roper talked before the robbery she said they did and that he was apprehensive about it.
During cross-examination Yeo's defence counsel, Mitchell MacLeod, questioned Wakelin on the clothing worn by Roper and Bird the night of the robbery.
She reiterated earlier statements that the two men were dressed in black and that they acquired black sweaters and gloves at Yeo's residence.
Asked about the veracity of her first statement to police she admitted that not everything she said was true.
The errors were attributed to drug use at the time and gaps in her memory of the events
In response to questions about her discussions with police she said police indicated they knew what happened and were particularly interested in any involvement by Yeo.
The trial resumes Wednesday.