RNC chief defends Singleton

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New deputy chief involved with botched murder cases

The justice system failed Greg Parsons, but newly appointed deputy chief Ab Singleton wasn't the sole reason for the failure, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Chief Bob Johnston insisted Wednesday.

"The wrongful conviction of Greg Parsons was a miscarriage of justice," Johnston said, adding the force has learned from it, beefed up training and radically changed the way it conducts investigations.

RNC Chief Bob Johnston

The justice system failed Greg Parsons, but newly appointed deputy chief Ab Singleton wasn't the sole reason for the failure, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Chief Bob Johnston insisted Wednesday.

"The wrongful conviction of Greg Parsons was a miscarriage of justice," Johnston said, adding the force has learned from it, beefed up training and radically changed the way it conducts investigations.

"The RNC played a role as did others in the wrongful conviction of Greg Parsons. We have accepted our role in the wrongful conviction of Greg Parsons."

Johnston was defending the deputy chief appointment for Singleton, who was the lead investigator in the Catherine Carroll murder case.

"Some of the criticism is not correct in terms of what they are saying in terms of Ab Singleton's involvement in the wrongful convictions or that he was solely responsible, or the suggestion he may have been dishonest," Johntson said.

"There is no question that he is the lead investigator in relation to the first investigation ... that led to the arrest of Greg Parsons. But he took advice from investigators, forensic experts, lawyers."

Johnston, the lead on the second investigation into the Carroll murder that exonerated her son Parsons, said Singleton is a top-notch candidate for deputy chief.

"It was the right decision, there's no question. I am pleased with the appointment. I know he will do an exceptional job. And I guess we will see what happens in relation to any protest or online campaign," Johnston said at RNC headquarters.

Singleton was also involved in the investigation that resulted in the wrongful conviction of Randy Druken in the murder of his girlfriend.

Parsons and Druken have publicly criticized Singleton's promotion.

Both cases were a key part of the Lamer Inquiry into wrongful convictions in this province. Its report was released in 2006.

"And if anybody would take the time to review that report, there's no question that Ab Singleton made mistakes as did others in the investigation. But there was no malice on his part," Johnson said Wednesday.

"There was no corruption. ... One thing that needs to be understood here is that was 19 years ago. Since then Ab Singleton worked tirelessly and advocated to ensure policing excellence."

Commissioner Antonio Lamer faulted many aspects of the justice system including the investigation.

"Parsons' case became a runaway train, fuelled by tunnel vision and a noble cause, and picking up many passengers along the way," Lamer's report concluded.

"The investigative team lacked training and experience. But most of all, it lacked objective critical analysis through leadership. It was a ship adrift ... (and thus) extremely vulnerable to tunnel vision."

Parsons was wrongfully convicted of killing his mother in 1994.

He was finally exonerated in 1998 when DNA found at the scene didn't match his. Parsons' childhood friend, Brian Doyle, was sentenced to life with no eligibility for parole for 18 years in 2003.

Druken was a small-time criminal when he was charged and later convicted of murder in the brutal stabbing death of his 26-year-old girlfriend, Brenda Young, June 12, 1993.

He served more than six years of a life sentence before DNA evidence, and the recanting of testimony by one of the Crown's key witnesses, set him free in August 2000.

It has been suggested in media reports the Association in Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted will mount an online campaign against Singleton's appointment.

Parsons declined comment Wednesday and no one was available from the association.

Parsons, now a firefighter, told the Lamer Inquiry he was the tapped from the get-go.

"The whole premise of the justice system is that you're innocent until proven guilty, but from Day 1 I was guilty until proven innocent," he testified.

"From the day I found my mother, 3 p.m. that day (RNC Insp.) Ab Singleton pulled me in, I was the prime suspect back then. I'm not a stupid man and I never had much dealings with the police, but you don't have to be a brain surgeon to know what they're getting at with the attitude and questions. 'Why are you asking me did I get along with my mother?' As soon as they asked that, I knew there was something up." Singleton was appointed deputy chief last week along with Bill Janes.

Johnson said Singleton is not only well respected in the department, but has been lauded as a community volunteer, including two-time recipient of citizen of the year.

Johnson said there were several candidates considered for deputy chief.

"I wouldn't appoint anybody unless they were top candidates," he said.

Singleton is in charge of patrol operations, operational support and the Labrador and Corner Brook operations.

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Association in Defence

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Mr. BIG
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    This kind of reasoning has a hole in it the size of a donut. Just goes to show, if you have the premiers backing, you can get away with anything. Maybe darlene Neville do have a snowball balls chance?

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    If Bob Johnson wants anyone to take him seriously he should shave off that moustache, it makes him look like a keystone cop.

  • Kent
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    KD from NL, br Do you see the irony in your commentary??... You talk about Singleton being a fall guy, etc, etc.. Here's a novel conept... Put yourself in Parson's shoes... Taxpayers deserve better and Parsons deserves better.

  • justme
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Mike W from NL writes: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice and you become Deputy Chief? br AMAZING COMMENT! You hit the nail on the head! The man was involved in 2 botched MURDER cases and suddenly he is our Deputy Chief? Its amazing how people can justify how the cases were poorly conducted; public outcry for justice, pressure from the RNC itself, etc...REALLY? 2 innocent people payed for this mans, as well as other officers involved, mistakes and somehow he's rewarded? Yuck...

  • Glenn
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Mr. Singleton's promotion speaks most loudly to the shallow pool of talent within the RNC. That the Chief would choose Mr. Singleton along with all his baggage, over any other candidate, tells me that that there must be some lack of talent in the ranks of the RNC.

  • Joe it all
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    When a person gets arrested, convicted, placed in jail and finally released they want what most of us would call a fair shake. That is to be given a fair shot at making a new life because they have paid for their crime. Even if they have made a couple of such mistakes. Should we not give the person who admittedly made mistakes in these two cases the same break????

  • KD
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone! br br Mr. Singleton deserves this position! He was the public fall guy for the mess up in the Parsons and Druken cases back in the day when the RNC was severly under funded, under manned and under trained. He has more than atoned for his mistakes. It's funny, when things go right everyone takes the credit, but when things go wrong there's always one person to blame. Put yourself in the poisiton of any officer during these two cases, immense public pressure to find killers, exponentially greater internal pressure to find someone responsible, the list goes on. It shouldn't have happend, but it did...let's not pretend to know all the facts here and hang one man at the gallows because of our ignorance! br br Ab is a great police officer, a great community leader and without a doubt, he's the best person for this job! br br Congrats Mr. Singleton and hats off the Chief Johnston for sticking with his man!

  • NORM
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    This is a mistake. br This man do not represent the integrety the justice system and public commands. br br His judgement is questionable to say the least.

  • Kent
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Ab Singleton might be a great guy and citizen of the year etc., however, that shouldn't be a yardstick for the promotion to Deputy Chief. His leadership resulted in what was arguably the single biggest blunder in RNC history. Quite frankly, this now makes me re-think Bob Johnstons judgment as Chief. Clearly the Lamer Inquiry has not resonated with anyone in the RNC or Justice Department.

  • up4discussion
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    Through my indirect working relationship with Mr. Singleton, he was always professional and displayed great decision-making techniques.

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    I think that the Provincial Government may have made a mistake in promoting Ab Singleton to Deputy Chief. There is no doubt that Mr.Singleton may in fact be a fine person. However it doesn't pass what I would call the - smell - test. There have been two very public miscarriages of justice for which Mr. Singleton may not have been solely responsible, but he was most certainly a key player. They had to, or should have expected a public back lash to the appointment. I am sure there were a number of fine candidates to pick from without bringing this undo attention back onto the RNC.

  • just
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    for the record, just me and justme are two different people....

  • Vie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Darrell, you've completely missed the point, omitted their expenses and forgot that some things in life are far more important than money. How about we arrest you for murder and put you through this ordeal ? Good luck fighting for compensation and your good name. As we all know, once you're arrested, people will always look at you in a different way guilty or not. If you get out, you will also enjoy the rest of your life receiving therapy for your PTSD. No thanks, I'll choose freedom, family vacations, birthday parties, walks in the park, BBQs, peace of mind and a good reputation over 10 years salary (minus lawyers fees) any day. Some people never recovery from such trauma, and you endorse this possibility to happen to more innocent victims at the hands of our so-called justice system ? Are you related to BP CEO Tony Hayward ?

  • Prerequisite
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    19 years ago I thought police knew how to do good investigative work, we're not talking about the 19th century here, but they didn't. That in itself is shocking. So why should we believe police know how to do good investigative work today ? Will we hear of major blunders and sloppy detective work in another 19 years ? br br br Those commenting above in favor of these appointees are like 18 year olds with a new driver's licence, they think they are invincible and that a miscarriage of justice will never happen to them or their loved ones. br br br With a dark cloud of mistrust hanging over their heads, these appointees are a very poor choice of candidates. Even more so given the recent history of RNC community relations in the last several years with officers charged for DUI, kicking out police cruiser windows, stalking, losing handguns, firing handguns off in police headquarters, $14,000 stolen from secured police property rooms (I wonder whatever happened to that ?), drawing weapons on children with plastic toy guns, arresting children with mental disorders because they don't walk in a straight line, and the list goes on and on. Any appointees should of had impecable credentials. I guess it's a sign of the times and the world we live in. Extremely disappointing. Extremely.

  • Don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Just when The RNC were gaining some respect they promote this guy. What were they thinking.? You would think .........ahhhh i give up!

  • prufock
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Whether he deserves the appointment or not, Mr. Parsons must realize that if the conditions surrounding his mother's death were suspicious, he would of course be a suspect. If he was questioned on that first day, he was likely their only suspect at the time, so the criticism that he was their prime suspect isn't really a criticism at all. Did he expect not to be questioned? br br There's no doubt that there was a grave error in his conviction, but that he was a suspect isn't in itself an error.

  • Darrell
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    I think you have all forgotten that Mr. Parsons and Mr. Druken got well compensated for his error.From what I remember Mr. Parsons got a job with the fire department and a million plus dollars not bad for wrongly accused I'd say.

  • Mike
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice and you become Deputy Chief?

  • Just
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    I don't know much about the case or any of these people, but I do know that nobody is perfect and that history proves that mistakes like wrongful convictions will always be made. I think everyone suffers some kind of injustice or wrongful treatment in their lives. Stories like this make me think of my own awful experiences with injustice and my favorite quote by a Lewis B. Smedes: Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future. Lets be thankful people like Greg have gotten his future back, pray for his mom, and hope that fair and correct justice will always prevail...and try our best to forgive.

  • Jack
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Because Bob Johnston and Ab Singleton seem to blame everyone else but themselves for the sloppy detective work resulting in two lives and reputations ruined, which no amount of compensation will repair it, they seem to be suffering from a condition known as Derek Wheeler Syndrome. br br If you remember the old Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High (especially Season Two) series when some of us were teenagers like myself, Derek Wheeler was a character known for blaming everyone else but himself for his misfortunes such as lying, stealing, and eventually killing a kid as a result of drinking and driving. br br Though the Lamer Inquiry blames the RNC for these wrongful convictions, but Johnston and Singleton are still shifting blame, they blame everyone else but themselves. br br Their actions indiciate they didn't learn from their mistakes at all. br br I hope Bob Johnston will learn this lesson, he who doesn't learn from their mistakes or history are condemned to repeat it.

  • darls
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    birds of the same feather.....stick together.....these are two you can tar with the same brush

  • Kent
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Joe it all from NL , br Sending an innocent person to jail is a liitle more than a mistake. It was a long list of mistakes and poor judgement during the investigations. I think most people are more than willing to forgive these mistakes, however, that does not equate to enodorsing his promotion to Deputy Cheif. He managed to keep his job... Considering what happened, he should be more than content with that.

  • R
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    I have known Greg Parsons for some time. This guy has been to hell and back. To find out that the Deputy Chief was the lead investigator on Gregs case sickens me greatly. This is nothing short of a slap in the face to Greg and his family. This is also a slap in the face to the tax payers of the province whose tax dollars were allocated to pay for the whole ordeal as well as the inquiry. I am with Greg on this one. This is one error that government needs to correct. Department of

  • Jack
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Police are in a position of elevated trust in society. This really sends out a message of indifference to the general public. I can only assume, as another poster has already pointed out, that the selection pool must be very thin at the RNC to put such controversial people in these positions. It may have been better to hire from the outside, like maybe the OPP given that the RNC rely on them so much to do so many tasks the RNC are incapable of doing.

  • Mr. BIG
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    This kind of reasoning has a hole in it the size of a donut. Just goes to show, if you have the premiers backing, you can get away with anything. Maybe darlene Neville do have a snowball balls chance?

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    If Bob Johnson wants anyone to take him seriously he should shave off that moustache, it makes him look like a keystone cop.

  • Kent
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    KD from NL, br Do you see the irony in your commentary??... You talk about Singleton being a fall guy, etc, etc.. Here's a novel conept... Put yourself in Parson's shoes... Taxpayers deserve better and Parsons deserves better.

  • justme
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Mike W from NL writes: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice and you become Deputy Chief? br AMAZING COMMENT! You hit the nail on the head! The man was involved in 2 botched MURDER cases and suddenly he is our Deputy Chief? Its amazing how people can justify how the cases were poorly conducted; public outcry for justice, pressure from the RNC itself, etc...REALLY? 2 innocent people payed for this mans, as well as other officers involved, mistakes and somehow he's rewarded? Yuck...

  • Glenn
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Mr. Singleton's promotion speaks most loudly to the shallow pool of talent within the RNC. That the Chief would choose Mr. Singleton along with all his baggage, over any other candidate, tells me that that there must be some lack of talent in the ranks of the RNC.

  • Joe it all
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    When a person gets arrested, convicted, placed in jail and finally released they want what most of us would call a fair shake. That is to be given a fair shot at making a new life because they have paid for their crime. Even if they have made a couple of such mistakes. Should we not give the person who admittedly made mistakes in these two cases the same break????

  • KD
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone! br br Mr. Singleton deserves this position! He was the public fall guy for the mess up in the Parsons and Druken cases back in the day when the RNC was severly under funded, under manned and under trained. He has more than atoned for his mistakes. It's funny, when things go right everyone takes the credit, but when things go wrong there's always one person to blame. Put yourself in the poisiton of any officer during these two cases, immense public pressure to find killers, exponentially greater internal pressure to find someone responsible, the list goes on. It shouldn't have happend, but it did...let's not pretend to know all the facts here and hang one man at the gallows because of our ignorance! br br Ab is a great police officer, a great community leader and without a doubt, he's the best person for this job! br br Congrats Mr. Singleton and hats off the Chief Johnston for sticking with his man!

  • NORM
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    This is a mistake. br This man do not represent the integrety the justice system and public commands. br br His judgement is questionable to say the least.

  • Kent
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Ab Singleton might be a great guy and citizen of the year etc., however, that shouldn't be a yardstick for the promotion to Deputy Chief. His leadership resulted in what was arguably the single biggest blunder in RNC history. Quite frankly, this now makes me re-think Bob Johnstons judgment as Chief. Clearly the Lamer Inquiry has not resonated with anyone in the RNC or Justice Department.

  • up4discussion
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Through my indirect working relationship with Mr. Singleton, he was always professional and displayed great decision-making techniques.

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    I think that the Provincial Government may have made a mistake in promoting Ab Singleton to Deputy Chief. There is no doubt that Mr.Singleton may in fact be a fine person. However it doesn't pass what I would call the - smell - test. There have been two very public miscarriages of justice for which Mr. Singleton may not have been solely responsible, but he was most certainly a key player. They had to, or should have expected a public back lash to the appointment. I am sure there were a number of fine candidates to pick from without bringing this undo attention back onto the RNC.

  • just
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    for the record, just me and justme are two different people....

  • Vie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Darrell, you've completely missed the point, omitted their expenses and forgot that some things in life are far more important than money. How about we arrest you for murder and put you through this ordeal ? Good luck fighting for compensation and your good name. As we all know, once you're arrested, people will always look at you in a different way guilty or not. If you get out, you will also enjoy the rest of your life receiving therapy for your PTSD. No thanks, I'll choose freedom, family vacations, birthday parties, walks in the park, BBQs, peace of mind and a good reputation over 10 years salary (minus lawyers fees) any day. Some people never recovery from such trauma, and you endorse this possibility to happen to more innocent victims at the hands of our so-called justice system ? Are you related to BP CEO Tony Hayward ?

  • Prerequisite
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    19 years ago I thought police knew how to do good investigative work, we're not talking about the 19th century here, but they didn't. That in itself is shocking. So why should we believe police know how to do good investigative work today ? Will we hear of major blunders and sloppy detective work in another 19 years ? br br br Those commenting above in favor of these appointees are like 18 year olds with a new driver's licence, they think they are invincible and that a miscarriage of justice will never happen to them or their loved ones. br br br With a dark cloud of mistrust hanging over their heads, these appointees are a very poor choice of candidates. Even more so given the recent history of RNC community relations in the last several years with officers charged for DUI, kicking out police cruiser windows, stalking, losing handguns, firing handguns off in police headquarters, $14,000 stolen from secured police property rooms (I wonder whatever happened to that ?), drawing weapons on children with plastic toy guns, arresting children with mental disorders because they don't walk in a straight line, and the list goes on and on. Any appointees should of had impecable credentials. I guess it's a sign of the times and the world we live in. Extremely disappointing. Extremely.

  • Don
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Just when The RNC were gaining some respect they promote this guy. What were they thinking.? You would think .........ahhhh i give up!

  • prufock
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Whether he deserves the appointment or not, Mr. Parsons must realize that if the conditions surrounding his mother's death were suspicious, he would of course be a suspect. If he was questioned on that first day, he was likely their only suspect at the time, so the criticism that he was their prime suspect isn't really a criticism at all. Did he expect not to be questioned? br br There's no doubt that there was a grave error in his conviction, but that he was a suspect isn't in itself an error.

  • Darrell
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    I think you have all forgotten that Mr. Parsons and Mr. Druken got well compensated for his error.From what I remember Mr. Parsons got a job with the fire department and a million plus dollars not bad for wrongly accused I'd say.

  • Mike
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice and you become Deputy Chief?

  • Just
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    I don't know much about the case or any of these people, but I do know that nobody is perfect and that history proves that mistakes like wrongful convictions will always be made. I think everyone suffers some kind of injustice or wrongful treatment in their lives. Stories like this make me think of my own awful experiences with injustice and my favorite quote by a Lewis B. Smedes: Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future. Lets be thankful people like Greg have gotten his future back, pray for his mom, and hope that fair and correct justice will always prevail...and try our best to forgive.

  • Jack
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    Because Bob Johnston and Ab Singleton seem to blame everyone else but themselves for the sloppy detective work resulting in two lives and reputations ruined, which no amount of compensation will repair it, they seem to be suffering from a condition known as Derek Wheeler Syndrome. br br If you remember the old Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High (especially Season Two) series when some of us were teenagers like myself, Derek Wheeler was a character known for blaming everyone else but himself for his misfortunes such as lying, stealing, and eventually killing a kid as a result of drinking and driving. br br Though the Lamer Inquiry blames the RNC for these wrongful convictions, but Johnston and Singleton are still shifting blame, they blame everyone else but themselves. br br Their actions indiciate they didn't learn from their mistakes at all. br br I hope Bob Johnston will learn this lesson, he who doesn't learn from their mistakes or history are condemned to repeat it.

  • darls
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    birds of the same feather.....stick together.....these are two you can tar with the same brush

  • Kent
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Joe it all from NL , br Sending an innocent person to jail is a liitle more than a mistake. It was a long list of mistakes and poor judgement during the investigations. I think most people are more than willing to forgive these mistakes, however, that does not equate to enodorsing his promotion to Deputy Cheif. He managed to keep his job... Considering what happened, he should be more than content with that.

  • R
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I have known Greg Parsons for some time. This guy has been to hell and back. To find out that the Deputy Chief was the lead investigator on Gregs case sickens me greatly. This is nothing short of a slap in the face to Greg and his family. This is also a slap in the face to the tax payers of the province whose tax dollars were allocated to pay for the whole ordeal as well as the inquiry. I am with Greg on this one. This is one error that government needs to correct. Department of

  • Jack
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Police are in a position of elevated trust in society. This really sends out a message of indifference to the general public. I can only assume, as another poster has already pointed out, that the selection pool must be very thin at the RNC to put such controversial people in these positions. It may have been better to hire from the outside, like maybe the OPP given that the RNC rely on them so much to do so many tasks the RNC are incapable of doing.