A former Mountie who was the first at the scene of an Armstrong teenager’s murder, back in 2011, has taken the RCMP to court in a trial that began on Monday.
The trial has been a long time coming and has gone through multiple adjournments. Milan Ilic filed a civil lawsuit in 2016, five years after he arrived on scene of a serious assault in Armstrong near the train tracks on Rosedale Avenue on Halloween night. Ilic was based out of the Falkland RCMP detachment at the time.
The victim was 18-year-old Taylor Van Diest, who Ilic put his jacket over to keep warm. She died of her injuries in hospital Nov. 1.
An empty liquor bottle was later found in the bushes approximately 25 metres from where Van Diest was found, raising questions about whether or not the officer tossed it.
Matthew Foerster was charged with first-degree murder in relation to Van Diest’s death, and the trial began on March 24, 2014. Ilic appeared on that day to testify.
According to Ilic’s statement of claim, it was his first and only involvement with a murder scene or investigation and he was “emotionally shaken by the experience and still suffering from the trauma at the time of the trial in March 2014.” Ilic was later diagnosed with PTSD.
Less than a month after testifying at the Foerster trial, Ilic was informed he was under a code of conduct investigation related to his testimony in court. It was alleged that he committed perjury and conducted himself “in a disgraceful manner” by providing false or misleading evidence about the liquor bottle in Supreme Court.
In August 2014, Ilic was served with a notice of suspension. He was reinstated in July 2015. Immediately after the suspension was lifted, Ilic was placed on sick leave. He has remained on sick leave ever since.
Ilic’s lawsuit claims the RCMP was guilty of harassment, intimidation and abuse of authority against him. He alleges there was a mishandling of the RCMP’s internal investigation into his conduct that had serious repercussions for his mental health.
“The fact that the process is unresolved has left him without any avenue to prove his innocence leaving a further permanent stain on any further potential career in the RCMP,” the claim states.
According to the claim, public trust in the plaintiff is essential to his role as an RCMP officer and the drawn-out investigation into his conduct has tarnished his public reputation. The claim cites an example of a colleague who had heard in Chilliwack that the plaintiff had been drinking on the job. From the start, Ilic denied any involvement with the discarded liquor bottle found near the murder scene and it was never proven that Ilic had been the person who discarded it; DNA tests of the bottle came back inconclusive.
During the murder trial, a witness testified that she had seen Ilic discard a bottle. Ilich said he had only discarded a box of pens. A sargant’s report later revealed inconsistencies in the witness’ evidence: she’d stated to him that she thought it was a water bottle but it possibly could have been a box of pens.
Ilic’s lawsuit names B.C.’s justice minister and the Attorney General of Canada as defendants. Ilic is seeking general damages, special damages, past loss of income, future loss of income, diminished loss of earning capacity, loss of benefits and pension and costs.
The lawsuit went to trial on Monday and Tuesday in BC Supreme Court in Kamloops, where Ilic and his family now reside, and will continue this week.
Foerster fled to Ontario after the murder but was arrested there five months later. He pleaded guilty in a retrial and was sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder, with no chance of parole for 17 years.