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Potter agreed to help undercover police move dead body, court hears

Allan Potter gathers his notes from the prisoner dock Monday as his murder trial in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's is adjourned for the day.
Allan Potter gathers his notes from the prisoner dock Monday as his murder trial in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's is adjourned for the day. - Tara Bradbury

'Body' was actually a 200-pound pig in a hockey bag

In most situations, the police use of a major crime investigative technique — also known as a Mr. Big operation — can take weeks or months, with officers working to establish a rapport with their suspect and developing a situation of trust with them.

In the case of Allan Potter, this process was sped up for a number of reasons, mainly because he was already close friends with one of the men working undercover to get him to talk about the murder of Dale Porter and what involvement, if any, he had in it.

One of Potter's fellow Vikings Motorcycle Club members had secretly agreed to become an agent for the RCMP, playing a role in a scenario made up by a police sergeant tasked with serving as the "cover officer" for the operation. The officer, who testified at Potter's murder trial Monday, stayed behind the scenes, never interacting directly with Potter. He devised the scenario and directed the agent and undercover RCMP officers when it came to what to do and say in order to make Potter comfortable enough to open up to them about any involvement he might have had in the murder.

In May 2016, under the sergeant's direction, the Viking-turned-agent told Potter of new business associates he had. The men were in the loan sharking and debt collection business, and the money was easy and good, he told Potter. The men were actually undercover RCMP officers, and to make the story more credible — just in case Potter mentioned it to friends — the agent introduced them to other Vikings members, bringing them to the club's bar on Boncloddy Street in St. John's. Police gave the agent large amounts of cash to have on hand and for buying rounds of drinks, to prove business was profitable, the court heard.

"The objective was to put a face to the story (the agent) had been directed to relay," the sergeant testified.

The agent also introduced Potter — who was in jail in Ontario at the time — to one of the "businessmen," who later visited Potter alone, offering him a job. On Sept 25, 2016, the day Potter was released from prison, the same man was directed to meet him and tell him that he needed his help finding two brothers who owed a large amount of money.

Allan Potter
Allan Potter

"The objective was to meet Mr. Potter and begin driving to the city of London on the pretext that (the undercover officer) had work to do, as discussed," the sergeant explained. "The objective for the next day was to provide an environment for Mr. Potter to discuss any involvement he may have had in the Dale Porter homicide."

The plan was that the officer would receive a phone call from the other "business partner" while driving to London, telling him that he had located one of the brothers and needed to meet right away. Shortly after 9 p.m., Potter and the first officer met the second officer at a bar called the Barking Cat in Belmont, Ont.

"I had spent two days scouting a location," the sergeant told the court. "It was far enough for the drive to London for conversation, and it was remote in that it would be less likely for someone to interrupt the scenario."

In the bar, the second undercover officer explained he had located one of the brothers and had killed him, and now needed help getting rid of the body, which was in a nearby cornfield. The first officer left the room on the pretense of making phone calls to some contacts, then returned and took charge of the situation. With he and Potter in one car and the second officer in a white van, they drove to the cornfield and located the body: a 200-pound pig stuffed into a hockey bag.

With the hockey bag aboard the van, the men drove to a cemetery in London, where they were met by one of their contacts, a cemetery worker, who would help them dispose of the body by throwing it in a fresh grave. The worker was actually another undercover RCMP officer.

Once that was done, the officers were instructed to bring Potter to a hotel and get him a room for the night.

The next morning, the first undercover officer, Potter's main "business contact," was directed to meet him outside the hotel, while other Mounties were hidden in the parking lot, taking photos and video. The officer wore two hidden recording devices as he shook Potter's hand and then had a 40-minute long conversation with him outside the front lobby.

"I was told afterward that they both had failed," the sergeant told the court of the recording devices.

Regardless, once the undercover officer relayed the details of the conversation to investigators, the decision was made to arrest Potter for the murder of Dale Porter. Those details have yet to be disclosed in court.

The sergeant called the scenario a "high-impact" one — though not the highest-impact undercover operation he had ever been involved in.

"We're exposing a target to a high degree of violence or simulated violence, similar to what's being investigated," he said, explaining the "high-impact" term. Such an operation requires approval from higher-ups, he added.

Defence lawyer Jon Noonan pointed out the techniques involved in a Mr. Big-type operation go against what's allowed in regular police interrogations, in which suspects are read their rights and given the opportunity to consult a lawyer.

The sergeant agreed, explaining that in Mr. Big cases, the undercover officers are not in positions of authority.

"The target is not shown that this is all going to disappear unless they confess. It's, 'You have police attention on you and I can help you get rid of it, if I know the details.' It's not, 'Tell me everything about how criminal you are.'" — Undercover RCMP Sergeant

Noonan described the undercover operation has having two objectives: to entice a suspect, and to show them a lifestyle they would lose unless they provided specific information.

"The target is not shown that this is all going to disappear unless they confess," the sergeant countered. "It's, 'You have police attention on you and I can help you get rid of it, if I know the details.' It's not, 'Tell me everything about how criminal you are.'"

"You directed (the agent) to tell Mr. Potter it was a peaceful, legal job, yes?" Noonan asked the RCMP officer.

"At the beginning, yes," the sergeant replied. "There was a higher likelihood that Mr. Potter would have said, 'I don't want to get involved in that,' right off the bat, otherwise."

"Mr. Potter is with someone who has indicated to him that he is responsible for an organization that has just murdered someone, and is requesting Mr. Potter's assistance in disposing of the murdered body," Noonan said. "At this point, Mr. Potter is either in with this organization in terms of an accomplice, or what? What's the alternative? You put great pressure on the suspect, would you agree with that?"

"No, I disagree," the sergeant responded.

Potter has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 39-year-old Dale Porter, who was found with multiple stab wounds, lying in his North River driveway in the early morning hours of June 29, 2014. Porter, a fisherman, a trucker and a father of two, died shortly after arriving at the hospital in Carbonear.

Potter's trial is expected to continue Tuesday, with the court hearing recordings made by undercover officers and the testimony of the other officers involved.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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