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Trial hears details of witness's role in murder case

Nov 17 2012

A key Crown witness was told by his police handler not to instigate or encourage others to commit crime for any reason, a B.C. Supreme Court jury heard Friday.

The fact was one of 15 admissions signed by Crown and defence and read into the court record at the second-degree murder trial of Andrew Bel-court and Samuel Mcgrath. Leslie Hankel, a 52-year-old mentally-ill man, was shot to death in his Pembroke Street apartment on March 3, 2010.

After reading the admissions, Belcourt's lawyer, Tim Russell, closed the defence case. Mcgrath's lawyer, Mike Munro, did not call any evidence.

The jury has been released and is to return Thursday morning for final submissions.

All the admissions except one concerned Crown witness Mike Rennie, Belcourt's stepfather. Last week, the jury heard that Rennie received $6,000 the day after he informed on his stepson and helped organize his arrest.

The admissions detailed Rennie's involvement in the case, including:

? March 3, 2010, 2: 15 p.m. - Rennie told his police handler on the phone that Belcourt had phoned him and told him he "f---ed up real bad" and needed to get out of town. Rennie told the officer that Bel-court and Mcgrath were looking for a gun and that they got one delivered March 2 about 8: 30 or 9 p.m.

? March 3, 3: 32 p.m. - Rennie told his handler he did not know who pulled the trigger, but that it "was probably A.J.," calling Belcourt by his nickname.

? March 3, 10 p.m. - Rennie met his handler and received $500 in cash. He told the officer the gun "was delivered." Rennie also said there was no mistake as to the suite of the target - a disabled man who was supposed to have one pound of weed.

The police handler spoke to Rennie about being a confidential informant on the case. Rennie was told not to commit crime and that there would be no immunity from prosecution.

? March 4, 5: 33 p.m. - Rennie called his handler and told him that Belcourt's mask had fallen off and that he shot the victim. It was the first time Rennie said that Belcourt's mask fell down.

? Jan. 12, 2012 - Rennie called the Victoria Crown Counsel office and asked to speak to the prosecutor in the case. He told the receptionist he was a "C.I." and that he was "prepared to testify." He attended various interviews with police and a lawyer.

? Jan. 24 - The Crown entered into an agreement that Rennie would receive immunity from prosecution in the case. Rennie agreed to provide a truthful recorded statement to police and testimony in exchange for support, relocation and protection.

? Feb. 12 - Rennie and his handler met with the RCMP Witness Protection Investigator. Rennie said he was there to negotiate a lump-sum payment of $75,000 and to secure a name change. He became angry and hostile when told he was there to address protection concerns. Rennie said he would never have co-operated if he thought he wouldn't be paid.

? Rennie did not tell police prior to Feb. 14 that he delivered the Ithaca shotgun to Belcourt and Mcgrath for the robbery.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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