Major crime fighters honoured
More than a million documents. Thousands of pieces of evidence.
Without a dedicated team to collect, sort, log and sift through the documents and evidence, B.C. RCMP believe they would not have reached a successful conclusion to investigating a Vernon organized crime group that terrorized the city in 2005.
Six members of the team that helped investigate the gang called The Greeks were honoured with Certificates of Appreciation at the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP detachment Monday, presented to them by retired inspector Al Haslett, who led the investigation into The Greeks, and Chief Supt. Jim Gresham, head of E Division (B.C.) major crimes program.
Haslett formed the task force into The Greeks, believed responsible for seven murders in 11 months in Vernon, in September 2005.
“I quickly realized that without a very strongly dedicated and committed support staff, we were never going to get the results required to prosecute and convict the individuals responsible for these murders in court,” said Haslett.
“That’s why we’re here today. To pay recognition to six support staff who worked tirelessly for hours and hours to put together the case we required.”
The six include Vernon detachment employees Pat Goertz and Sandy Irvine. Goertz transcribed hundreds and hundreds of documents and statements that Crown counsel needed to disclose to the courts to the defence. Irvine, the detachment’s exhibit custodian, had to log and document more than 4,000 exhibits and cater to the demands of Crown which, Haslett said, were continuous.
And then there were The Four Amigos, as Haslett referred to them: retired members Ewan Pitt, Brent Lynn, Al Rodgers and Greg Heck, who did the vetting of the Crown documents, putting things together for Crown to disclose and get them into court.
“They were dealing with 11 Crown prosecutors and their demands,” said Haslett. “Without these four, we could never have got the results in court that we did.”
After an 18-month trial that concluded in November 2012 – a trial that cost $60 million and that doesn’t include RCMP costs – five members of the gang were sentenced to eight first degree murder charges, three second degree murder charges and three counts of manslaughter.
“In my view, this investigation is simply one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the RCMP major crimes program,” said Gresham.
“Each of these six individuals was integral in the success, and I thank them and recognize their hard work and dedication.”
Provincial Crown called the investigation one of the most difficult cases they’ve ever handled and praised the RCMP for doing an exceptional job.
The trial is one of the longest in B.C. and Canadian law history, and it featured more than 100 police and civilian witnesses.
It also had people convicted of serious crimes participating as witnesses in the prosecution of other suspects.
“It is of enormous regional and national significance to have secured these convictions,” said Gresham.