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Four military arrests in 10 days ‘a coincidence,’ says department

The facade of the headquarters of the Department of National Defense is pictured in Ottawa.
The facade of the headquarters of the Department of National Defense is pictured in Ottawa. Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The arrests of three Canadian Forces members and one cadet instructor in the span of 10 days this summer was a coincidence, says the Department of National Defence, and none of the cases seem related.

“Each case assigned to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is different and, as such, the completion time varies from case to case,” said Lt. Blake Patterson, public affairs officer for the Canadian Forces Military Police Group.

“The timing of charges related to these cases was a coincidence.”

Three of the men were actually charged on the same day — Aug. 15 — but the spate of court cases began on Aug. 5, when the military’s special investigations unit (CFNIS) laid charges under the National Defence Act against Leading Seaman Marshall Smith.

Smith is facing one count of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, and one count of unsafe storage of a firearm under the National Defence Act after a routine security check at Canadian Forces Base Stadacona in Halifax allegedly turned up illegal drugs in his car.

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Ten days later, CFNIS caught up with Aviator Nicholas Burrell of 14 Wing Greenwood, also in Nova Scotia.

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Burrell faces six separate firearms and drug-related charges after investigators say they seized “more than half a kilogram of marijuana, packaging materials, production equipment and a non-military firearm” from his home in May.

The same day, Aug. 15, Cpl. Simon Cadieux of the Joint Personnel Support Unit in Petawawa, Ont. was charged in connection with an alleged sexual assault against a fellow member of the Canadian Armed Forces while the two were on exercise in Jamaica last November.

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Finally, CFNIS also charged Julian Morello on Aug. 15. Morello was a civilian instructor employed at a cadet training centre at CFB Borden. He is accused of aggravated sexual assault for failing to disclose his HIV-positive status before entering a sexual relationship with a member of the Canadian Forces.

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Patterson said all four investigations were conducted “in a deliberate and comprehensive manner” from start to finish. Details of all four were made public between Aug. 10 and Aug. 17.

“The Canadian Forces Military Police take all allegations of offences seriously and, in all cases, investigations are conducted to determine the facts, analyze the evidence, and lay appropriate charges when warranted.”

Patterson said the Canadian Forces “firmly reject” any suggestion that military police might be trying to minimize publicity surrounding the cases by making them public in quick succession during the summer months.

“If anything, the fact that we have issued widely-circulated news releases and have responded to multiple media requests shows openness and transparency,” he noted.

Asked if there are any additional investigations underway that could result in charges in the coming days or weeks, Patterson said that information is kept confidential “to ensure the investigative process is not jeopardized.”

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