Former Mountie Rapinder (Rob) Sidhu was acquitted in Surrey Provincial Court on Wednesday of impersonating a police officer to get information on the Bacon brothers back in July 2007.
Judge John Lenaghan handed down the not guilty verdict just before noon.
He said he had a reasonable doubt about Sidhu’s guilt after the testimony Tuesday of Catherine Matthews, who said she didn’t recognize Sidhu’s voice on the recording of the person who called the RCMP’s Operational Communications Centre on July 31, 2007 purporting to be a homicide cop looking for the address of the Bacons.
Matthews, who is now a manager of the OCC, told Lenaghan that in the early 1990s, when she was as dispatcher at the centre, she had almost daily contact with Sidhu when he was still a Mountie and out on the road.
“I believe it was years that we worked together on the same watch,” she said, adding that it was likely for a period of three or four years until the mid-1990s.
Matthews said that after the 2007 security breach, she was told it might have been Sidhu who called. She offered to listen given her familiarity with his voice.
But she said she was did not recognize the caller as Sidhu.
Defence lawyer Matthew Nathanson said after the verdict that his client has always maintained his innocence.
“He is pleased that he has finally been able to clear his name,” Nathanson said, noting the case had gone on for more than five years.
Nathanson had argued in his closing submissions that the only evidence against Sidhu was the testimony of Mounties who claimed to recognize his voice.
And he said voice identification is fraught with “serious inherent frailties” and should not be relied upon.
“It is my submission that the Crown has not proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt and that my client should be acquitted,” Nathanson told Lenaghan. “This is a case which turns virtually entirely on voice identification.”
Nathanson also said Matthews’ testimony raised reasonable doubt.
And he also said that at the time the call was made in July 2007, Sidhu had been the subject of briefing notes and internal RCMP chat about his purported links to gangs and organized crime.
Sidhu has been living in Montreal over the last year, where he is due to have an extradition hearing on Nov. 29 on the U.S. charges.
He quit the RCMP while under investigation in 2003 and has had a number of criminal associations over the years.
The U.S. indictment, which was unsealed in August 2011, alleges Sidhu was involved in the drug ring beginning at least by the middle of 2007 until at least May 2008 and worked with convicted B.C. smugglers Rob Shannon and Devron Quast “to operate a cocaine transportation organization based in British Columbia.”
And the indictment says the drug gang was working for the benefit of the Hells Angels in B.C. Dozens of accused have already been found guilty on both sides of the border.
Sidhu is alleged to have recruited a Canada Border Services Agency guard who allowed vehicles laden with cocaine to pass unscreened into B.C.
If convicted on the U.S. drug charges, the maximum sentence is life.