Defence suggests Greg Fertuck wasn’t medically fit to be target for undercover police tactic
Greg Fertuck’s lawyer suggests Fertuck wasn’t medically fit to be the target of an undercover police tactic.
Fertuck is charged with first-degree murder in connection to the disappearance of his estranged wife, Sheree Fertuck.
Sheree was last seen on Dec. 7, 2015 leaving her family farm to go haul gravel near Kenaston, Sask.
Fertuck admitted to killing Sheree in a recorded confession to undercover police.
The RCMP officer who orchestrated the undercover tactic took the stand for cross-examination on Wednesday.
Undercover officers who testify can’t be named under a publication ban, to protect the officers’ identity.
On Jan. 1, 2019, Fertuck slipped on ice outside a Saskatoon bar.
He suffered a brain injury and blood clot, court heard.
Fertuck was hospitalized from Jan. 10, 2019 to Feb. 15, 2019.
At this time, undercover officers had spent months befriending Fertuck, targeting him in a tactic known as a “Mr. Big sting.” In this operation, undercover police pose as criminals, befriend a suspect and often get a recorded confession.
As officers saw Fertuck’s condition improve, the Mr. Big sting was restarted.
Fertuck suffered some memory loss during the injury, so RCMP had to redo some of their scenarios, the undercover officer testified.
Defence lawyer Mike Nolin asked the undercover officer if he ever sought any medical opinions about Fertuck’s brain injury.
“No,” the undercover operator replied.
To perform a Mr. Big sting, RCMP need approval from headquarters.
The grounds for suspicion must be explained and the target must be of an operating mind, court heard.
The undercover officer testified he isn’t aware of a psychological test a target must pass.
“Did you know that end of March 2019, (Fertuck) wasn’t clear to drive?” Nolin asked the undercover officer.
Nolin notes that police put Fertuck in a plane just weeks after he was released from the hospital.
Court heard targets should be sober and alert to fully comprehend what’s trying to be achieved during the scenarios.
FERTUCK LIED TO COPS: LAWYER
The undercover officer agreed the relationship between Fertuck and undercover police was built on lies.
Nolin told the undercover officer it became clear Fertuck was telling lies too.
The defence listed four times Fertuck lied to undercover operators. He lied about assaulting a sex worker, the existence of a man he wanted killed, an attack at a hotel and being medically cleared to work, the defence said.
Court heard Fertuck worked for a fake criminal organization, transporting contraband, that was set up by undercover police.
The Mr. Big sting Fertuck was part of is controversial and even banned in several countries.
Defence lawyers argue targets are manipulated into giving false confessions.
The second undercover officer to take the stand, known as the “bump operator,” testified he’s been part of three Mr. Big stings that did not result in charges and suspects were cleared.
The officer testified the goal is to get to the truth, not necessarily a confession.
“We’re not looking for any other result other than the truth,” he told court.
The bump operator befriended Fertuck during a trip to Canmore that was set up as a contest by RCMP.
The Mr. Big sting starts with “lifestyle surveillance” — where RCMP watch the target for weeks to groom the undercover officers’ personality and appearance.
“If someone’s into NASCAR, then hey, so are we,” the bump operator testified.
In Fertuck’s project, some undercover officers showed an appreciation for the outdoors and hunting, to match Fertuck’s interest.
Mr. Big stings can be expensive to make scenarios appear believable, court heard. In Fertuck’s case, it involved multiple undercover officers working around the clock, props of money bags and trips to different Canadian cities.
Fertuck’s Mr. Big sting cost $679,292, court heard.
It was $145,395 over-budget, mainly due to investigator work overtime.
The recorded confession from the Mr. Big sting may not be accepted as evidence by the judge.
The trial is in a voir dire, a trial within a trial, to determine the admissibility of evidence.
First, the details are laid out. Then, the judge will decide if it can be used in the Crown’s case.