The public is getting its first look at the “Mr. Big” sting that undercover police officers used to obtain an alleged confession from accused child killer Garry Handlen.
The video, played in court two weeks ago and released to media on Wednesday, appears to show Handlen admitting to and providing details about the 1978 murder of 12-year-old Monica Jack.
Last month, the court heard how Jack was last seen riding her bike north of Highway 5A in Merritt in May 1978. Her bike was later found down an embankment about two kilometres from her home, but it wasn’t until 17 years later that forestry workers stumbled upon her remains about 20 kilometres away.
Handlen was arrested after an undercover RCMP operation that started back in 2014. Through the controversial “Mr. Big” sting technique, Handlen was introduced to a fictional crime organization, and eventually its “boss,” who told Handlen he was being investigated for Jack’s murder, and who offered to help cover it up.
In the video, the fictional crime boss, actually an undercover RCMP officer, tells Handlen police have collected both DNA evidence and witnesses. He claims he has several ways of derailing the investigation if Handlen can provide him with enough details about the crime.
“So then this is what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to clean this f***ing thing up,” says the officer, whose voice has been distorted and face blurred out, at one point. “In order to do that, I need to know what happened there. Because I’ve got to cover everything off.”
After some back and forth, in which Handlen says he can’t remember exactly what happened but that he was probably in a “drunken stupor,” the officer coaxes more details from him.
Handlen: “I remember picking a broad up one time. Having sex. Then I just lost it, suddenly. I think I strangled her, but I’m not sure.”
Officer: “This one here? You’d remember, (indecipherable).”
Handlen: “It must have been.”
Officer: “She’s like 11 or 12 years old here.”
Handlen: “It could be.”
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Later in the recording, the undercover officer presses Handlen on details about where the alleged murder took place and what happened in the aftermath.
Officer: “What did you do with her? I need to know where you went after, was it with her, what you did with her, because someone else might have seen you. We’ve got to cover all of that off.”
Handlen: “I don’t know. I think I just left her there.”
Officer: “You don’t know though?”
Handlen: “I’m pretty sure.”
Officer: “You’ve got to help me Garry, I can’t do much if you’re not going to help me.”
Handlen: “I left her up on a road somewhere. I did. That’s what I remember I left her somewhere on the road.”
Officer: “You said up somewhere?”
Handlen: “Up a hill.”
In another exchange, Handlen describes his original interaction with the victim, after the undercover officer asks where they met.
In the video, Handlen tells the officer the interaction happened on a turnoff on the side of a highway near a lake, though expresses some confusion about what highway he was on.
“She was riding her bike, pulled in when I stopped,” Handlen says.
“I just grabbed her. Threw her bike in the lake, grabbed her, took her in the camper and went up the hill.”
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It’s the second recording relating to the “Mr. Big” sting that has been released in the case.
In the previous audio recording, the court heard police, acting as the fictitious crime gang, berating Handlen for not being honest with them.
All told, Crown said it was presenting about 90 minutes of recordings of Handlen, including the alleged confession, in a jury trial scheduled to last 51 days.
Handlen has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder.
— With files from Grace Ke