Nelson Bennett (Canwest News Service) – For the last 18 months, Richmond RCMP Constable Khomphet (Kam) Khamphoune has lived with the tarnished image of a cop who allegedly stole from his detachment and had “links” to kiddie porn.
He was also painted in a Richmond provincial courtroom Thursday as a quasi-survivalist who liked to dress up in combat gear and “play soldier.”
Jack Harris, his lawyer, painted him in a different light Wednesday, portraying the 34-year-old father of a profoundly ill child as an ambitious, tech-savvy keener who took his work home with him, used his own equipment in police duties, and was subjected to a humiliating and unnecessary public arrest by his peers in the RCMP. He also hinted that those same peers were running the Crown’s case.
“I am concerned this prosecution is not being run by my friend,” Harris said, acknowledging several police officers – some of whom have testified – who have been in court observing the case for the past few days.
“This case is not being led by the police,” crown prosecutor Jim Hughes answered.
Khamphoune was charged Jan. 27, 2007, with possession of stolen goods and restricted weapons, and breach of public trust. The latter charge was stayed, and Khamphoune has agreed to a voluntary ban on possessing weapons. The only count remaining is the possession of stolen goods, which included such RCMP-issue gear as gas masks and roadside flares.
Harris argued there was a plausible explanation for each item seized from Khamphoune’s house. Many of the items seized were not RCMP issue at all, Khamphoune testified, but personal property. Khamphoune said two of the six gas masks seized were his own. He used one of the masks when assigned to dismantle a marijuana grow operation.
As for the four RCMP-issue gas masks found in his home, Khamphoune testified that he had volunteered to bring them to a training exercise, which was cancelled. And as for two passports found in Khamphoune’s home – one Taiwanese the other Canadian – both had been turned in to the RCMP as lost.
In both cases, the person who lost their passports had been issued new ones, so returning them became a low priority.
Harris described his client’s case as one in which police went looking for something else – child pornography – and had to settle for something less. The case appears to have a back-story that is not being heard by the court.
“There is a lot more to this case than I’m being told,” Judge Ron Fratkin said Thursday.
Richmond RCMP began investigating Khamphoune after a fellow RCMP member allegedly saw child pornography on Khamphoune’s personal laptop computer.
Sufficient evidence was never found to lay charges, however.