VANCOUVER — A man accused of murdering a 12-year-old British Columbia girl over 40 years ago has been found guilty of first-degree murder.
Jurors began deliberating the fate of Garry Handlen on Tuesday after an 11-week trial in B.C. Supreme Court, where Monica Jack’s mother tearfully testified she last saw her daughter riding her bike on a sunny Saturday in May 1978.
Jack’s family members wept in the courtroom after the verdict was released on Thursday.
The trial heard that Handlen told an undercover RCMP officer in November 2014 that he sexually assaulted and strangled Jack after abducting her from a highway pullout in Merritt.
His his defence team had maintained the confession was coerced.
A first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
In a hidden-camera video shown in court, Handlen told the crime boss of a so-called Mr. Big operation that he grabbed Jack, threw her bike in a lake, forced the girl into the bathroom of his camper and drove up a rough hill where he killed her and burned her clothes and parts of her body.
Jack’s skull and some bones were found in the area 17 years later.
Her mother, Madeline Lanaro, told the trial she was driving her old Mustang home with her other children when she saw her daughter on the highway and that the girl waved at them.
“I honked and the kids yelled out, ‘Do you want a ride? And she said ‘No.’ ”
Lanaro said her daughter had asked for permission to ride her new bike down the highway for the first time that day.
The nine-month undercover operation that began in Minden, Ont., in early 2014, involved a fictitious crime group that hired Handlen to do legal and illegal jobs such as loan sharking, the trial heard.
Handlen was paid almost $12,000 by the gang that promised him a middle-management job as he was gaining favour with the boss, who told him in the video that police had DNA linking him to Jack’s murder but the crime could be pinned on someone else if he provided enough details.
“The bottom line is, they got people that saw you and they got your DNA. That’s not good, Garry,” the crime boss tells him in a hotel room, in video shown to the jury.
Handlen was also told he would have to travel to British Columbia’s Interior with other members of the group to point out the spot where he said he’d abducted Jack so an ailing man taking the fall for him would have that information.
Handlen told the supposed crime boss he picked up an Indigenous girl and sexually assaulted her, then repeated at least half a dozen separate times that he strangled her before tossing her body behind a log and leaving the area.
“It’s a weight off my shoulder now, I’ve told you. So I’m not the only one that knows now,” he tells the crime boss in the video.
The boss tells him he could continue working for the group to repay the debt.
“I’m indebted for life now,” Handlen says, before repeatedly thanking him.
Handlen’s defence lawyers told the jury their client was set up by the RCMP with inducements that had him believing he’d get his dream of a new truck and continue being part of a group he called a band of brothers.
However, the Crown said Handlen had no motivation to confess to a crime he didn’t commit and felt relief at having unburdened himself from a secret he’d carried for 36 years.
— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
Video attacking Canada’s response to COVID created by Conservative leadership hopeful is going viral
This video was posted by MP Erin O’Toole.
The RCAF veteran, and former Minister of Veterans Affairs is running to replace Andrew Scheer and hoping to become Canada’s next Prime Minister.
The video is a scathing review of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. It has already been viewed well over half a million times.
From the Facebook page of Erin 0’Toole
➡️ The Chinese regime, the WHO and the Trudeau government DO NOT want people to see this.Let's make sure Canadians see the truth! 👍🇨🇦
Posted by Erin O'Toole on Thursday, May 21, 2020
Canadian Forces Snowbirds release video of Jennifer Casey homecoming
From the Facebook page of Canadian Forces Snowbirds
You are joining us live from the Halifax International Airport for the homecoming of Captain Jennifer Casey, a military Public Affairs Officer who was killed in a CF Snowbirds crash during Operation INSPIRATION.
You are joining us live from the Halifax International Airport for the homecoming of Captain Jennifer Casey, a military Public Affairs Officer who was killed in a CF Snowbirds crash during Operation INSPIRATION.#CFSnowbirdsNous sommes en direct à l’Aéroport international d’Halifax afin d’assister au retour de la capitaine Jennifer Casey, officière des affaires publiques militaire qui a perdu la vie dans l’écrasement d’un appareil des Snowbirds des FC pendant l’op INSPIRATION.#SnowbirdsFC
Posted by Canadian Forces Snowbirds on Sunday, May 24, 2020
- Community2 days ago
Attention City of Red Deer; “It is best to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it”
- Top Story CP3 hours ago
The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, July 6
- Top Story CP17 hours ago
Theatre star Nick Cordero dies at 41 after months of complications from COVID-19
- Community13 hours ago
Lone Ranger and the Riders of Justice Chapter 12
- Culture12 hours ago
Bing and Ol’ Medicine Hat
- Top Story CP2 hours ago
Planned class-action lawsuit alleges illegal strip searches of federal prisoners
- Top Story CP20 hours ago
Tories, NDP at odds over federal spending as Liberals prepare fiscal snapshot
- Alberta20 hours ago
After prior rejections, Alberta announces sandhill crane hunt for this fall