Drug trafficker appeals conviction after details of ‘disgraced’ Victoria police constable become public

CHEK

B.C.’s top cop is voicing his frustration after news broke that one of the biggest drug busts in B.C. history was botched, according to a judge, because Victoria Police ‘obscured’ investigative information by changing around dates to hide a ‘disgraced’ constable’s involvement.

“I think it’d be as fair to say I’m as angry just about as everyone else when I heard the news in the staying of charges in what was a significant, major drug bust in British Columbia,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and B.C.’s Solicitor General.

On Wednesday, VicPD’s top brass said it was the only case affected.

“My understanding is that there’s no other files currently before the courts that are being impacted as a result of Constable Ferris’ misconduct,” said Victoria Police Chief Del Manak.

But CHEK News has learned there are other cases that are cracking.

One appeal in the works

A ‘persistent’ drug trafficker, Horst Schirmer, who’s served several sentences for trafficking is trying to overturn his 2017 conviction by arguing that same “disgraced” Victoria police officer,  Ferris, was a key witness at his trial and can’t be trusted.

“Mr. Schirmer alleges his conviction was the product of a miscarriage of justice…Mr. Schirmer is tendering fresh evidence on appeal that he says would have affected the assessment of Ferris’ credibility and therefore the verdict if it had been available at trial,” said Brent Anderson, Schirmer’s lawyer in an email to CHEK News.

Schirmer’s appeal is now scheduled for early December.

A retired Supreme Court judge says he expects every single case officer Ferris has ever touched will now be under the microscope.

“The fact that the officer was involved in other investigations is a matter that the Crown will have to consider on an individual basis,” said Wally Oppal, former attorney general and Supreme Court judge.

Ferris was found to have shared details of investigations and covert operation techniques with his wife, mother, and another civilian but was never criminally charged.

He’s since resigned and now co-owns a company that builds tennis and other sport courts along with another retired officer.

Ferris did not responded to CHEK News’ request for comment.

More questions raised

Ferris wasn’t the only issue within what’s become known ‘Project Juliet’. After taking $30 million worth of fentanyl off the streets and arresting three top dealers, a judge says Victoria Police didn’t properly disclose Ferris’ involvement.

The lead investigator, Const. Kim Taylor is now the subject of an external disciplinary investigation from the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, looking into her alleged discreditable conduct and neglect of duty for not properly disclosing Ferris’s involvement and changing the dates of Project Juliet, something she told prosecutors was an administrative oversight.

That investigation is currently on pause, but the OPCC told CHEK News they expect it to resume soon.

Const. Taylor has since retired from the Victoria Police Department.

“Our officers acted in good faith but there are lessons to be learned for sure,” Manak told CHEK News Wednesday.

B.C.’s Solicitor General says having Project Juliet implode, the charges against three men allegedly ‘at the top of the fentanyl pyramid’, stayed — one against Brent van Buskirk, who was on parole for the 2004 Saanich murder of Ravi Nutt — and now a trafficker looking to overturn a prior conviction, is “unacceptable”.

“VicPD has indicated they will be making significant changes to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said Farnworth.

Farnworth says he’s determined now to get answers to some key questions, including what went wrong and how.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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