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Police went to court this week for permission to hold on to items, and $434K seized during Craigmillar homicide investigation
Searching Kurt Churchill’s Craigmillar Avenue home in St. John’s as part of a homicide investigation last summer, RNC officers discovered items that have led the Mounties to open an investigation of their own.
The RCMP went to court this week to ask for permission to hold on to things seized from Churchill’s home until next year, saying they believe the items are evidence in a money laundering and proceeds of crime investigation.
Police provided a long and detailed list of the specific items they were seeking to keep, which includes more than $434,000 in cash, a money counter, a vacuum sealer and sealable storage bags, originally seized under a search warrant by RNC homicide investigators and turned over to the RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) unit in St. John’s.
A day later, the Mounties obtained their own warrant to search Churchill’s home and seized financial documents from various banks, another $995 in cash, dozens of retail, travel and bill payment receipts indicating cash payments — some for amounts greater than $10,000 — tax documents from the Canada Revenue Agency, 2.1 grams of cocaine, four mobile phones and an iMac computer.
Many of the listed documents relate to the purchase of home building supplies and furniture; others are property tax documents issued in Churchill’s name for properties in St. John’s, Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove and Bay Bulls.
“As a result of the search warrants and the seizure of the (proceeds of crime) and RNC items, in particular the currency seized by the RNC, cash receipts and financial documents, the FSOC commenced the investigation into Churchill and the possible link between his drug trafficking activities and possession of (proceeds of crime) and money laundering,” RCMP Cpl. Laura Purchase said in the application, which was granted Friday morning, with some small amendments.
Churchill, 43, has never been convicted of drug offences and has no criminal record. He was arrested in 2014 and charged in connection with a police investigation into cocaine trafficking in the St. John’s area, but the charges were later dismissed after his lawyer argued unreasonable trial delays.
Churchill was found guilty in September of threatening a police officer during an incident in downtown St. John’s last year in which he was detained for public intoxication. He was given a conditional discharge and ordered to submit a DNA sample to a national police database — an order that was stayed 10 days later. Churchill’s lawyer successfully argued for a stay of the order pending his appeal on the threats verdict; the Crown has since appealed the stay.
Police have not yet charged anyone in connection with the shooting death of 47-year-old James Cody, who was found outside Churchill’s Craigmillar Avenue home in July, nor have they named any of the suspects they’ve identified.
Tara Bradbury reports on the justice system and the courts in St. John's