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Weapons case dies, Mounties blamed

Mike McIntyre (Winnipeg Free Press) – RCMP are being blamed for causing a mistrial in a Manitoba jury case.

Elwyn Evans is charged with running a major illegal weapons operation that was putting high-powered firearms into the hands of criminals. His trial began earlier this month, but collapsed suddenly on Wednesday.

Queen’s Bench Justice Joan McKelvey said she had no choice but to pull the plug on the case after learning police hadn’t disclosed potentially key evidence to the Crown until last weekend. A date for a new trial will have to be set.

Evans remains in custody without bail. Security had been increased for his trial, including a metal detector sheriff’s officers installed at the main entrance of the courtroom. Sources told the Free Press there were concerns because of the alleged links to organized crime.

Evans, 65, has denied any wrongdoing, claiming other people were involved in the illegal enterprise. Last Sunday, RCMP advised Crown attorney Keith Eyrikson of a 2006 interview with an inmate at the remand centre who was claiming responsibility for some of the stolen goods found on Evans’ sprawling Interlake property. The information was then forwarded to Evans’ lawyer, who immediately filed a motion for a mistrial.

McKelvey agreed, saying the information was relevant and should have been disclosed to lawyers in advance of the trial.

“This lack of an investigatory step was an important aspect of the defence of this case. That strategy has now been irreparably damaged and altered by the fact that an investigation obviously took place,” the judge ruled.

Evans is facing numerous charges including manufacturing and trafficking weapons stemming from the August 2006 police raid of land he owned in Komarno, about 75 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Police seized dozens of Sten submachine-guns, allegedly rebuilt inside the clandestine gun shop. The Canadian Forces decommissioned the guns in the 1970s and they appear to have been reconditioned and sold on the black market. Police also found several rifles and shotguns, along with two working cannons and a homemade .50-calibre rifle.

They also discovered three solid steel pen guns — homemade guns disguised as ballpoint pens. The guns fire a single .22-calibre bullet for what one officer described at the time as “up-close and personal killing.”

Jurors were told one of the properties Evans owned contained “all of the tools needed to manufacture Sten guns and pen guns.” There were also schematic diagrams and computer printouts on how to assemble the weapons.

Police also seized two allegedly stolen camper trailers, a golf cart, two Bobcat earthmovers and three personal watercraft. Car parts were also found buried on one of the properties.

In Komarno, dismantled military surplus weapon parts appear to have been acquired and then reassembled. Officials have said what gun parts couldn’t be found could be made by an experienced gunsmith.

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Categories: Failing to do Their Duties.

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