What COVID-19 has taught us about long-term care
Building an equal future for women in Atlantic Canada
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
SPECIAL REPORT: Facets of family violence
Have you tried the SaltWire News app?
UPDATED: COVID-19 news and numbers
Continuing coverage: Mass shooting in Nova Scotia
What's working for businesses in 2021?
A St. John’s man who threatened to kick a police officer in the head when he was detained on George Street last year was given a conditional discharge in provincial court Thursday.
Despite arguments from his lawyer that it was unwarranted and unnecessary, Kurt Churchill was ordered to provide police with a DNA sample for a national database, with the judge citing Churchill’s comment that he had no memory of the offence as a factor.
“Considering the nature of the offence — the accused was highly intoxicated in a public place and threatened a police officer and according to his own submission has no recollection of the events — in the absence of any evidence of impact the order would have on the accused’ privacy and security, it is an appropriate situation for the making of a DNA order,” said Judge David Orr.
Orr found Churchill, 43, guilty in September of threatening an RNC officer who had picked him up on George Street for being drunk in public in March 2019. Const. Cody Dunphy testified he and another officer had responded to a reported altercation outside a bar and detained Churchill out of fear he could be a danger to himself or others. Churchill was belligerent and aggressive in the police vehicle on the way to the lockup, calling the officers names and marking vague threats. Dunphy said he had decided to charge Churchill after Churchill told him, “I’m going to put my f—king boot in your head.”
“I have no recollection of the alleged incident. If any of those officers were here right now I wouldn’t be able to identify them, but if I scared or intimidated Const. Dunphy or any of the other officers that night by my comments, then I apologize,” Churchill told the court at his sentencing hearing.
Prosecutor Mike Murray suggested a suspended sentence and 12 months’ probation for Churchill, along with an order compelling him to provide a DNA sample. Defence lawyer Robby Ash suggested a discharge, saying Churchill has no prior criminal record and the incident was out of character for him.
“I have no recollection of the alleged incident. If any of those officers were here right now I wouldn’t be able to identify them, but if I scared or intimidated Const. Dunphy or any of the other officers that night by my comments, then I apologize.”
Orr granted a conditional discharge and 12 months’ probation, meaning Churchill will have to abide by conditions to be of good behaviour, among others, for the next year. If he successfully completes the probationary period, he will have no criminal record. If he breaches the conditions, his discharge can be revoked and replaced with a conviction.
Court documents indicate Churchill’s address last year was the Craigmillar Avenue house outside which 47-year-old James Coady was shot to death four months ago. No arrests have been made though the RNC has said it has identified suspects and put “precautionary measures” in place to ensure the public isn't at risk.
Sources say delays at national forensic labs, particularly when it comes to firearms testing, have increased with COVID-19 and are holding up the investigation. In October, police went to court to get an extension on their seizure of items from the Craigmillar Avenue address, where they reportedly took a CCTV system, bullet casings, multiple cellphones and other items. A handgun was located at a nearby property.
The law permits police to hold on to items seized with authority as part of an investigation for 30 days before it they must apply for an extension.
Churchill was arrested in 2014 as part of Operation Battalion, a police investigation into cocaine trafficking in St. John’s. His charges were eventually dismissed on the basis of an unreasonable delay getting the matter to court.
Tara Bradbury reports on justice and the courts in St. John’s.