Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team has dismissed charges against a Halifax police officer accused of theft from a drug evidence locker, and laid additional charges against a former RCMP staff sergeant charged with a similar offence.
Former RCMP Staff Sgt. Craig Robert Burnett already faces a number of charges including theft of cocaine, trafficking in cocaine, breach of trust and laundering proceeds of crime. He is alleged to have stolen 10 kilograms of cocaine from an evidence locker at the former RCMP headquarters in north-end Halifax in 2011. Investigators allege Burnett gave the drugs to someone else who sold it and split the proceeds with the Mountie.
On Friday, two new charges were added.
"Is now alleged that Mr. Burnett took steps that obstructed one of the police officers in his duty and took other steps to encourage an individual to give false information during the investigation," SiRT director Ron MacDonald said in a news release.
Crown Ran out of Time
The police watchdog also dismissed three charges against Halifax Regional Police Const. Gary Basso in another missing evidence case.
Basso was charged a year ago with theft, breach of trust and obstruction of justice. He was accused of stealing a substance, known as cut, used to dilute drugs from an evidence locker at police headquarters on Gottingen Street. The substance is added to drugs to increase the quantity and therefore, profitability.
The Crown stayed the charges against Basso last spring. Then last week, it decided that due to delays in prosecution, the charges would not be reinstated. The Crown has been under intense deadline pressure since the Supreme Court of Canada imposed limits on how long cases can take to make it through the courts. Basso's case is the latest case to be abandoned because it could not be completed under the new time restrictions.
The officer remains suspended without pay. An internal Police Act investigation is ongoing.
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