Keith Fraser (Vancouver Province) – A retired Mountie has quietly pleaded guilty to perjury arising from his testimony at the trial of a mother accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter.
After entering the plea in Vancouver Provincial Court, former Staff-Sgt. Ross Spenard received a nine-month conditional sentence.
Spenard testified as an expert in bloodstain analysis at the May 2009 trial of Charlie Rae Lincoln, who was charged with the second-degree murder of her daughter Hope in the remote coastal town of Bella Bella.
The officer was exposed in court as the author of a damning forensic report that was later called “not scientifically sound” by other experts.
Spenard, who was an RCMP officer for 32 years and previously testified at the trial of serial killer Robert Pickton, had initially claimed the report was written by another police officer.
But under cross-examination by defence lawyer Matthew Nathanson, he admitted to misleading the court.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Truscott told the jury that Spenard was the “perfect example” of a person who clearly lied under oath and violated his oath to tell the truth.
“That conclusion is so clear and convincing, and so serious, that I suggest you should consider his evidence to be completely tainted and without any value whatsoever,” said the judge.
At the time the perjury charge was laid in January, RCMP said a code of conduct review began when the force learned of the allegations after the trial.
When Spenard retired in 2010, that review came to an end. Police said a review of all of Spenard’s bloodstain pattern analysis files had been conducted and no significant concerns had surfaced.
Under the terms of the conditional sentence imposed by Provincial Court Judge Malcolm MacLean on June 24, Spenard will be under house arrest for three months and then under a curfew for three months.
Other conditions include that he must remain in B.C. unless he receives permission to leave the province from the court or his supervisor and must notify the authorities of any change of address.
Perjury, a criminal charge not frequently prosecuted, carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail.
The jury in the Lincoln trial eventually found the 23-year-old mother guilty as charged.
She received the mandatory life sentence with the minimum of 10 years of parole ineligibility.
The jury heard that she had been drinking and was in a jealous rage against the child’s father, Philip Blaney, because she suspected he was having an affair with another woman. She stabbed her daughter and slashed her a number of times.
Lincoln has appealed her conviction and the appeal is scheduled to be heard in the B.C. Court of Appeal on Sept. 15.