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Jimmy Wise said he didn't like homicide victim's drinking, swearing, court hears

Jimmy Wise appears in court in Cornwall to face first-degree murder charge on Friday, June 1, 2018.
Jimmy Wise appears in court in Cornwall to face first-degree murder charge on Friday, June 1, 2018.

Jimmy Wise said he didn’t want Ray Collison hanging around his garage because he drank and swore, and tried to borrow money, a murder trial has heard.

Paul Bourgeois, 68, a former Chesterville man, testified Monday that Wise said Collison bothered him.

“He’s a pest and he’s trying to borrow money,” Bourgeois quoted Wise as saying.

Bourgeois continued: “Jim said he was sick and tired of having him around. He was bugging him. He told him to stay out of there.”

Court has heard that Wise was a “backyard mechanic” who operated out of a rented garage on County Road 3, near Chesterville, which also served as a hangout for local residents with time on their hands.

Bourgeois said he stopped in at Wise’s garage most mornings. He said Collison also visited.

“Collison was a very loud guy,” Bourgeois said, “and when he drank, he swore a lot.”

Wise was not a drinker, Bourgeois said.

Wise is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Collison, 58, a handyman and father with mental health and addiction issues. Collison was reported missing in September 2009, but his decomposed remains were not discovered until April 2014 when his skull spilled of a drainage culvert.

An autopsy revealed he had been shot at least three times from behind with a .22. One bullet went through the back of his head and lodged in the front of his skull, above the eyebrow.

Bourgeois told court that after Collison’s body was found, Wise drove to his home in Green Valley, Ont., near the Quebec border, to show him a newspaper story about the discovery. The story included some pictures of Collison.

“I couldn’t understand it, why he’d drive all the way there and show me those pictures,” Bourgeois said. “It was odd, you know?”

Bourgeois described Wise as a man who was then “pretty big and pretty strong.” Wise was “triple or four times” as strong as he was, Bourgeois said, adding that he once saw Wise pick up a man by the throat and throw him “quite a ways”.

The incident happened in the town of Finch, east of Chesterville, about a month after Collison disappeared, Bourgeois said.

Another witness told court Monday that Wise said it would be easy for him to acquire a rifle. Aaron Finn, now 35, said he used to hang out in Wise’s garage. “It would be like something to do for the day,” Finn said of hanging out in Wise’s rented garage with other locals.

One day, Finn told court, the subject of a gun came up and Wise told him he’d have no trouble getting one for Finn. “He (Wise) said it wouldn’t be hard for him to get a rifle.”

Finn said that after Collsion disappeared, he and some others began to search for him. They went to his trailer and other hangouts, he said.

Wise, however, told him that he had met Collison’s mother, Myrtle, at a local flea market, Finn said, and that she reported seeing her son only two days’ earlier. Finn said everyone stopped looking for Collison based on Wise’s information.

Finn also told court that, following Collison’s disappearance, Wise kept the doors of his garage closed. He soon sold all his mechanic’s equipment and moved to Winchester, Finn said, where he’d spend whole days sitting in Tim Hortons.

“Whenever I’d drive past, I’d see his truck there,” said Finn, who worked nearby as a farmhand.

On cross-examination by defence lawyer Ian Carter, Finn said he understood that Wise sold his mechanic’s equipment and moved to Winchester after his longtime landlady died.

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