London, Ont., child abduction trial hears from girl’s father, investigating officer

An undated photo of Lawrence Allen Thompson, posted to his Facebook page. Facebook

CONTENT WARNING: This story contains disturbing and graphic content. 

The Superior Court of Justice heard from two new witnesses on Tuesday as the trial continued for Lawrence Allen Thompson, a 68-year-old man who’s charged in relation to an alleged child abduction and sexual assault from northeast London, Ont., nearly three years ago.

Thompson, who was 65 at the time of the incident on May 13, 2018, has pleaded not guilty to all four charges in the case.

Tuesday’s proceedings began with cross-examination of the young girl who was allegedly abducted. This was followed by testimonies from the seven-year-old’s father and an officer from the London Police Service who was the primary investigator in the case.

A publication ban ordered by the court prevents Global News from identifying any witnesses in the trial.

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Read more: Trial begins for London, Ont., man charged in 2018 child abduction

In his cross-examination of the girl, who was four at the time of the alleged abduction, defence lawyer Lakin Afolabi went through a number of photos with the girl that showed where she was allegedly abducted in 2018.

Afolabi asked her to confirm details such as where her house was, where her neighbours lived and where she was allegedly picked up by a man driving by.

“Let’s talk a little bit about when you got home and you told your parents about what happened,” Afolabi said, referring to the moments after the alleged abduction.

“I don’t know what I did, I just ran inside and said, ‘I got kidnapped,’ and then my dad did his part,” the girl responded.

“I was just on the steps crying.”

The cross-examination came after the girl told the court on Monday that she had omitted or created a number of details that she shared in the police statement she provided hours after the incident three years ago. A 46-minute video of the statement, dated May 13, 2018, was shared by the Crown on the first day of the trial.

Afolabi referred to these details as “mistakes,” and asked the girl to confirm or deny whether certain details she shared in the video were true.

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These “mistakes” included the girl saying in her police statement that the man who picked her up had driven her to his house. She clarified in court on Tuesday that this did not happen. Another “mistake” included the girl saying in the video that the man’s car had “Play-doh mixed with water and slime” somewhere inside, but the girl clarified this was not true.

She told Afolabi she doesn’t know why she didn’t clear this up with the officer she is seen speaking to in the video from 2018.

On Monday, the girl told the court that the man who picked her up had pulled down her pants and underwear before slapping her on the buttocks. When Afolabi asked about this, the girl expressed uncertainty over whether she believed that actually happened.

“Maybe he did slap your bum, maybe he didn’t, you’re not sure. Is that what happened?” Afolabi asked.

“Yes,” the girl responded.

In answering follow-up questions from assistant Crown attorney Kristina Mildred, the girl reiterated that she was uncertain whether she was slapped on her buttocks by the man. The girl added that while she was sure the man had pulled down her pants, she wasn’t sure if he had pulled down her underwear.

Throughout the cross-examination and further questioning from the Crown, the girl requested a number of breaks, all of which were accommodated by Justice Alissa Mitchell.

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The girl’s father was next to take the stand.

Mildred asked the father to describe what he remembers from May 13, 2018.

“A normal morning … me and (my son) had gone out for a drive in our car and then we came back home. I remember when I was brushing my teeth and (my daughter) had come in the house and told us about what had happened,” the father said.

“She told (my wife) a man had took her.”

He described his daughter as “visibly upset and shaken up,” adding that she was “crying and trembling.” The father said he was in shock upon hearing the news.

He told the court he then went outside and took a short drive in his neighbourhood, looking for “the man in the car.” He said he didn’t see anything that raised suspicion.

The father says he called 911 no more than five minutes after his daughter informed his wife of what had happened.

In cross-examination from the defence, the father was asked if he remembered anything else from what his daughter said immediately after the alleged abduction.

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“All I can remember is that she said that a man took her,” the father said.

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Tuesday’s final witness was a staff sergeant with London police who served as the primary investigator on the case.

“For lack of a better term, I was the quarterback of the investigation,” the staff sergeant told the court.

Mildred, the assistant Crown attorney, went over a number of photos from the investigation that were collected by the staff sergeant.

The majority of photos depicted the vehicle that had allegedly picked up the young girl, a Chevrolet Impala.

One of the photos included was the same photo provided to media on May 13, 2018, after police appealed to the public in the search for a man wanted in a child abduction investigation in northeast London.

The staff sergeant noted this photo was taken from surveillance footage captured by the Valleyview Mennonite Church.

A photo provided to media by London police of a suspect vehicle in a child abduction investigation in northeast London, Ont.
A photo provided to media by London police of a suspect vehicle in a child abduction investigation in northeast London, Ont. London Police Service

The staff sergeant noted that in the photo shared to media, along with others presented in court, there were a number of “definitive markings” that could be seen on the car. The officer told the court these markings “would make that vehicle more unique” and help officers identify the proper car.

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“Some of the things that we were specifically looking at were the wheels. There’s a seven-spoke pattern wheel on that vehicle,” the staff sergeant said.

The seven-spoke pattern on the wheels could be seen in the photo shared by Global News on the evening of May 13, 2018.

The staff sergeant said when officers had located the vehicle, sent it to forensics and opened the rear trunk, packaging for a jack stand, along with a pair of removed hub caps could be seen inside.

The officer told the court the removed hub caps had a similar seven-spoke pattern to the wheels seen in the photo distributed to media.

Another photo shown to court depicted the removed hub caps sitting beside hub caps that were on the vehicle when officers found it.

“I took the two hub caps out of the back trunk area, set them beside the wheels … to show the differences in the spoke patterns on the hub caps,” the officer told the court.

Police have previously said that Thompson, the accused in the trial, was arrested at around 6 p.m. on the day following the alleged abduction.

In cross-examination from the defence, the staff sergeant described the suspect vehicle has having a “tan or brown, light-coloured interior” with “black floor mats as well.”

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The staff sergeant also confirmed the vehicle had a black and white bumper sticker, which Afolabi, the defence lawyer, described as having said “look who Jesus loves.”

Read more: London man, 65, charged in relation to abduction of 4-year-old girl

Tuesday’s proceeding concluded with the assistant Crown attorney noting that she will have a number of civilian witnesses ready to testify Wednesday morning.

None of the allegations against Thompson have been proven in court.

The 68-year-old is a former custodian for the Thames Valley District School Board and was previously charged with two counts of sexual interference and two counts of sexual assault stemming from incidents in 2007.

Those charges were dropped in September 2009 on the same day he was issued a peace bond.

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