Jurors in the trial of a man charged with killing a 12-year-old British Columbia girl have heard an audio recording of the accused being fired for lying to the head of a supposed crime group as police conduct an undercover operation.
Garry Handlen is heard repeatedly apologizing to the “boss” as he is confronted at a bar in Quebec in front of other members of the fictitious organization.
Handlen has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Monica Jack on May 6, 1978.
A Crown attorney has told the B.C. Supreme Court trial that the girl was riding her bike on a highway near Merritt and Handlen confessed to an undercover officer that he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled her.
The court has heard that witnesses saw a truck and camper and a bike near a pullout on the highway where a girl was heard crying out the day Jack disappeared.
Her skull and some bones were found 17 years later and linked to her through dental records.
In May 2014, the trial heard the RCMP began an undercover operation targeting Handlen while he was living in Minden, Ont., where he was lured by a group whose boss demanded honesty “no matter what.”
The scenario heard in court Tuesday involves the supposed boss firing Handlen for saying he’d completed the task of meeting a particular woman in Quebec even though he hadn’t gone there.
“Let me explain,” Handlen is heard saying in a recording at the bar on Oct. 16, 2014.
“I already know the truth, I already know what happened,” says the boss, an undercover officer who testified about his role in the sting.
“I’m sorry,” Handlen says, sounding increasingly rattled at the boss’s angry outburst.
“You lied to my face!” he tells Handlen, who says he’d had a few drinks and hit a deer in the fog on the way to his assigned job.
“I wanted to do it,” he says, his voice cracking.
“Everybody, go to your phones, delete his numbers,” the boss tells the other group members, all undercover officers.
“Let that be a lesson to any who need it,” the boss says. “He’s finished!”
The boss tells the others not to contact Handlen, who is told to turn in his cellphone and the keys to a vehicle.
“The only thing that keeps everything tight is if we all tell the truth,” the boss says.
“Get out of here!” he yells at Handlen.
However, the trial heard that the boss accepted Handlen back into the group a week later after he’d stepped up “for one of the brothers” in another task for the organization.
The boss tells Handlen in the audio that he could have opted out, but Handlen says he wanted to do what was asked of him.
“I knew you were a straight up guy and I like that,” Handlen says to the boss at a restaurant in Thornhill, Ont., where the two have dinner with other undercover officers also pretending to be group members.
Handlen is then told in a recording that his elevated role in the organization will require a deeper background check on him.
The supposed boss told the trial the next stage of the sting involved a covert interview of Handlen, which would involve trying to convince the suspect that police were investigating him.
“There’s still a lot of heat, police interest and public interest into that homicide and that concerned me,” the “boss” told court about what he wanted to convey to Handlen
He said before the interview, set for Nov. 14, 2014, he reviewed some “props” he’d be using: a fake RCMP memo about DNA analysis in Jack’s murder and a letter from the supposed Houston-based company that would be doing further analysis to prove a 99 per cent match between the crime scene and Handlen’s DNA.
The court has heard Handlen was arrested and charged in November 2014 after confessing to the “boss” about his involvement in Jack’s murder.
Camille Bains, The Canadian Press