A paid police informant says he regrets joining a witness protection program and is suing the RCMP and the federal government as a result.
The man’s birth name is Paul Derry. He’s a career criminal, who testified against the Hells Angels for a murder in Dartmouth, N.S., in October 2000.
He identified himself as Paul Derry in his lawsuit and for his interview with Global News, though his official identity has changed three times since entering the RCMP’s witness protection program 20 years ago.
Derry claims the RCMP failed to prepare him and his family for living in witness protection.
“I’d like the program to change. I don’t ever want to see a family have to go through what my family has had to go through. Especially children.”
The lawsuit, filed with the Federal Court of Canada, claims “at no time did the RCMP advise Paul Derry (or his family) of potential mental health risks of being an RCMP informant.”
It alleges that his current wife has had a “mental breakdown,” and that his mother “passed away without anyone (at the RCMP) telling him she was even sick.”
And it alleges that one of his daughters, when still a teenager and before going into witness protection, “thought her father was dead for 6 months before she found out that her father was still alive.” The RCMP, the suit alleges, failed to advise her that her father was alive.
“She has not left her house for more than a few hours a month for six years. And she’s petrified,” Derry says.
He says he’s still under threat from the Hells Angels, and that his children sleep in a separate part of their house for their own safety.
“They know that if anything ever happens, that the door gets kicked in, or they hear noise, to go to their mother and get as far away from me as they can.”
He and other family members have received psychological and addiction counselling.
In a statement of defence, the Attorney General blames Derry’s problems on his own conduct, and says it “denies any breach of contract, and further denies breaching any duty of care the RCMP may have owed to the plaintiffs.”
The defence statement accuses Derry of “failing to acquire legitimate occupational skills”, and, “failing to cooperate with members of the RCMP.”
In a statement to Global News, the RCMP said it’s made “significant enhancements” to the Witness Protection Program over the last five years. And, that “the program has also invested in additional staff.”
Police officers familiar with witness protection say the program’s reputation is important because police need it to reassure people it’s okay to testify against violent criminals.
“Witness protection is one tool that we can use to try to alleviate that with the witness, his hesitation, or fear, really,” says retired homicide detective Dave Worrell.
Derry says he agrees.
“The last thing I want to see happen is informants to stop working. I just want them to work on better conditions and with more knowledge as to what they’re getting into.”
Considering how his life has turned out, Derry says he might have been better off keeping his mouth shut and going to prison, along with the men he implicated.
At least then, he says, his sentence would soon be over.
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