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Informant told police who killed man in View Towers, trial hears

Dec 02 2011

The day after Paul Rouxel died, Staff Sgt. Dave Bown received information from a confidential informant that the 45-year-old View Towers resident was killed by Wyatt Prince, a B.C. Supreme Court jury heard Thursday.

The informant, an elderly man named Hal Hannon, would eventually come forward as a Crown witness, then make a financial arrangement with investigators in the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit to work as a paid police agent, Bown testified at Prince's trial for second-degree murder and robbery.

"I heard second-hand information he received about $35,000," said Bown.

On the morning of April 10, 2009, Bown, who was in charge of the regional crime unit, received a text message from Hannon. Although he was off-duty, Bown called him right away. Hannon asked him if someone had been killed at View Towers the night before, he testified.

Bown called Insp. Clark Russell, who confirmed Victoria police were investigating a suspicious death at the apartment building. When Bown called Hannon back, Hannon asked him if a body was found in a closet.

Bown called Det. Terry Albrecht, the primary investigator, who confirmed a body had been found in a closet. When Bown called Hannon back, he received more information.

"Hal advised me that Wyatt killed him and Chris and Matt were with him. They heard [Rouxel] had two to three ounces of cocaine and went to rip him off," said Bown, reading from notes. "Chris and Matt took the money and took off. Wyatt had to stay to deal with the victim who was flipping out. He kept grabbing at his legs. Wyatt choked him and put him in the closet."

Bown passed this information on to both Russell and Albrecht, he testified. On April 11, Hannon told Bown that Prince was sleeping at the Chelsea apartments and he wanted to get his share of the money from Matt. On April 14, Bown and Sgt. Brian Kerr, also of the regional crime unit, met Hannon in person to go over the information in more detail. On April 22, Bown and Hannon talked about the possibility of Hannon coming forward as a Crown witness.

Bown introduced Hannon to the major crime investigators and backed off, he testified. Ultimately, Hannon became a police agent, but Bown was not privy to that decision. "I mostly just facilitated Mr. Hannon. I was instructed to keep out of it," Bown said.

Defence lawyer Mike Munro asked Bown about his evidence from the preliminary inquiry.

Did Hannon ask him if someone had died or was killed at View Towers, asked Munro.

"I believe he asked both," Bown testified.

Munro asked if Bown was aware of Hannon's relationship with Christina Gardiner, who was Prince's girlfriend.

Bown said he understood Hannon was a father figure, a protector, who had promised to take care of Gardiner.

She was a fairly serious drug addict, said Bown. "I knew she stayed with him as well," Bown added.

He agreed with Munro that both Wyatt and Hannon had an interest in Gardiner.

Bown was aware that the major crime unit paid Hannon $500 for rent and other expenses in October 2010.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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