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Potter offered job as hitman: agent

The courtroom on Friday, before the start of Day 10 of Allan Potter’s murder trial in St. John’s. Sitting (from left) are defence lawyers Randy Piercey and Jon Noonan, and prosecutors Erin Matthews and Sheldon Steeves. Behind them, Potter stands in the dock, awaiting Justice Garrett Handrigan and the jury.
The courtroom on Friday, before the start of Day 10 of Allan Potter’s murder trial in St. John’s. Sitting (from left) are defence lawyers Randy Piercey and Jon Noonan, and prosecutors Erin Matthews and Sheldon Steeves. Behind them, Potter stands in the dock, awaiting Justice Garrett Handrigan and the jury. - Tara Bradbury

Informant cross-examined after jury hears more recorded phone calls

The biker-turned-police-agent was nothing if not convincing.

Hired by the RCMP to try to get information from murder suspect Allan Potter, the Vikings Motorcycle Club member sounded genuinely shocked and worried when Potter called him one day in September 2016.

Potter was serving time in Ontario on an assault charge, and phoned his friend to tell him that he had been visited by a man who he thought was giving them both jobs. The man had a small task to do, and he wanted Potter alone to help him as soon as he was released the following week.

Unbeknownst to Potter, the man was actually an undercover RCMP officer with whom his friend was working. The conversation was recorded by police.

"Sure how? He went to see you?" the agent asked incredulously.

"Yes, come up and visited me, b'y!" Potter replied. "I got called (to the visiting area), I said who in the lifted f--- is that, now? And right out of the blue, there he was."

"Holy f---," the agent said, his voice panicked. "I'm out of work. Oh, my Jesus Christ."

"No, no, no, no, no. You and I still goes to work on the 2nd," Potter said, reassuringly. "He just got some small little thing he needs me to help him lift. Just some heavy lifting or something. He only needs a man for a little bit, but he said he might as well use me, where I'm going to be working with the company.”

The agent then seemed to calm down on the phone as Potter told him the man figured Potter might be better suited for the job, seeing it involved heavy lifting.

"You knows where I've been working out, and you know, I haven't got no injuries. I might be able to ah, you know, lift something onto the back of the truck easier than yourself. I mean, your hand is f---ed," Potter continued.

"You know something, I'm sat here now with half a beer, and first thing I thought was I'm out of work," the agent said later, stammering. "And I was going to say, but that there is the most amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing. That is."

On the stand at Potter's murder trial in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's Friday, the agent - who is now in witness protection - was questioned about the phone call by prosecutor Sheldon Steeves.

"You indicated to Mr. Potter you were having a beer. Were you?"

"No," the agent replied.

Friday was the second day of testimony for the former Viking, who entered and exited the courtroom flanked by armed plainclothes RCMP officers. He previously told the court he had signed an agreement with police to try to obtain information from Potter about the June 2014 murder of Dale Porter in North River. Still a Vikings member at the time, he said he often wore a hidden recording device when he met with Potter, a fellow Viking, and other club members.

The man said the agreement indicated he would be paid $250,000 plus $500 a week by police. That amount increased to $300,000 and $800 a week after he agreed to work on getting information about a number of other Vikings members as well.

Porter, a 39-year-old father of two and a fisherman, was found lying in his driveway with multiple knife wounds in the early morning hours of June 29, 2014. He subsequently died in hospital. Porter's family members have attended all 10 days of the trial so far.

Potter, 55, and another man (who cannot be named until he has his own trial) were charged with murder about two years after Porter's death.

The agent told the court he had started working for police in 2015, and had visited Potter in Ontario. The two also kept in touch through phone calls and handwritten letters, vetted and copied on the agent's end by the RCMP before they were posted.

The agent told Potter he had started working for a couple of men who ran a debt collection service, and was making good and easy money. The men had seen Potter online and wanted to meet him and offer him a similar job, he said, and he brought one of them - an undercover policeman - to meet Potter in prison.

The agent told the court the job was "along the lines of a bill collector and hitman."

In recorded phone calls played for the jury, Potter expressed his excitement over the offer and his determination to do a good job, as well as to stay sober.

"We're going good, we're going places, aren't we, buddy?" Potter was heard saying.

"I'm going to do a good f---ing job, too. So imagine how that's going to make you look. … How good that's going to make you look, when I shines like a f---ing shining star. And you're the one that got him to hire me."

"Al, if you only knew … I laid the bottle down, I'm looking at the hair on me arm, and blond hair from the wrist up to me elbow, it's like someone told me a ghost story," the agent replied.

Defence lawyer Randy Piercey questioned the agent Friday on his use of crack cocaine, asking him to confirm the RCMP had sent him to a detox facility on the mainland at one point. The man acknowledged that was true, and said he had spent 34 days in the facility.

Piercey asked the agent about the money he was paid by police, which the man said was always in cash. The largest amount he had gotten at one time was $100,000, he said, acknowledging he was also on income support at the time and had not paid income tax. He said he had asked the RCMP about taxes, and they told him it was up to him what he did with the cash.

"When the RCMP were paying you $3,200 a month in cash, they didn't say to you that you had an obligation to not defraud social assistance?" Piercey asked. "You didn't think you should tell social assistance you were getting this income?"

"Social assistance is from the government and the RCMP is government," the agent replied.

Piercey suggested Potter hadn't been aware he was being hired to be a hitman, pointing out the agent had been heard on the recordings saying the job was "all legal." The agent explained he had said it was legal on the phone and in letters for the benefit of prison officials, who might have banned him from contacting Potter otherwise.

"You don't know anything about my conversations with Mr. Potter in prison," he told Piercey.

"You took for granted he knew he was a hitman?" Piercey asked.

"Oh, he knew," the agent responded.

The defence lawyer also asked about the hidden recording device, questioning the agent about whether he tried to trick Potter into talking about the murder every time he wore it.

"Just about," the agent said.

"You wore that body pack around Mr. Potter dozens upon dozens of times and you got nothing, did you?" Piercey asked.

"No," the agent replied.

The agent was dismissed after cross-examination concluded Friday.

At the start of the day, Justice Garrett Handrigan told the 14 jurors two of them would not have a say on the verdict in the murder case. He explained the court had opted to select 14 jury members instead of the usual 12 out of caution, and two will be randomly chosen and dismissed at the end of the trial. The remaining dozen will head into deliberations.

Potter's trial will continue with the Crown's 29th witness on Monday.

tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


Related story:
Murder suspect offered job by undercover cop


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