Leo Crockwell’s trial is in full swing in St. John’s, but the status of the family’s Bay Bulls house where things unfolded is still in limbo.
Bill Crockwell said he’s run into several roadblocks in his efforts to recover the cost of the damage caused during his brother’s eight-day standoff with the RCMP in December 2010.
“It’s been very frustrating,” Bill Crockwell told The Telegram Monday.
The incident with police nearly destroyed the green and white two-storey home on St. John’s Road, where Leo had been staying with his mother and sister.
In their attempts to lure Leo out of the house, officers smashed windows, fired tear gas inside, tossed smoke and noise grenades in the house, used a battering ram at the door and pumped 60,000 gallons of water through an upstairs window. The walls were also said to have been damaged by gunshots fired by Leo Crockwell.
Through it all, he managed to escape through a side window in the house, which was being watched by a slew of RCMP officers.
Leo was arrested by Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers Dec. 11, 2010, at a house on Petty Harbour Road, more than
20 kilometres away from Bay Bulls.
He’s been behind bars since then.
The 57-year-old has pleaded not guilty to eight charges — assault and assault with a weapon on his sister and uttering threats against her, along with mischief by interfering with the lawful use of property, discharging a firearm, possessing a firearm without a licence, careless use of a firearm and reckless use of a firearm.
As Bill continues to deal with his brother’s incarceration and trial, he’s also trying to get things sorted out with the house. He wants it to be repaired for his elderly mother, who has been staying with him since the incident.
But it’s been a slow process.
“It’s taken a lot of time and, at times, you look at it and wonder just what you’re dealing with,” Bill said. “It’s not even sensible.”
His family did receive insurance money, but he said it was nowhere near what the value of the house and contents were actually worth.
“They had their own idea (of what the house and contents were worth) and I had mine,” Bill said.
“They did a generic list of everything in the house, but it doesn’t take into consideration the quality of things.
“Plus, I pointed out about 25 things missing on their list, including the fridge. Apparently, this was the only house in Newfoundland without a fridge,” he added sarcastically.
“They just never addressed it when I brought it up.”
For instance, he said, there was a piano in the house, which the insurance company didn’t value very highly. Bill said he had it assessed and presented the assessed figure to the company, “but they completely ignored it.”
There were also dozens of knitted socks, crafted by his mother. He said the insurance company valued them all at just $5.
“You can’t even buy the wool for that,” he said. “These are Newfoundland-made wool socks.”
Crockwell even bagged the socks and took them to a popular local Newfoundland craft shop and had them appraised. He said he submitted that figure to the insurance company, but again, he said he was ignored — “just like I came up with that number out of the blue.”
“They give you a figure and say to you, ‘Here’s what the value is. Have a nice day.’ … It’s their way or no way,” Bill said.
“I’m not saying we were rich, but most people have some half-decent things in their homes and when something happens, you’d like to get back what they were worth.
“I don’t think people realize just what you have to go through with insurance until it’s too late.
“At this point, there’s not much more I can do about it.”
However, he hasn’t completely given up on the idea of getting back what he feels the family deserves.
Bill said he does plan to look into the RCMP’s responsibility for the damage.
“I haven’t gone to them yet. I admit I’ve been slack about it,” he said.
“But I will do that soon and see where it goes. It’s our only recourse right now. I don’t know what the answer is going to be.”
An independent review of the RCMP actions in the standoff was released last year, but the Halifax Regional Police service, which conducted the review, would not release the final report to the public.
When contacted by The Telegram Monday, RCMP communications officer Sgt. Marc Coulombe replied, “The matter is before the courts and as such we will not comment on this.
“There is a process in which the Crockwells can follow through legal channels. This may have already been explained to them.”
Meanwhile, Bill continues to support his brother during the trial and has been in the courtroom throughout most of the proceedings. He likely won’t return when it resumes today, though, since he’s been informed he could end up having to testify.
“It all wears you down and it catches up to you after a while,” he said.
“But all this has to be done.”