Cop not guilty on all counts

Rosie
Rosie Mullaley
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Defence says police had tunnel vision in case of RCMP officer

Moments after the jury foreman read the 10th and final not-guilty verdict, a teary-eyed RCMP Cpl. Steven Blackmore walked out of the prisoner’s dock.

RCMP Cpl. Steven Blackmore hugs his defence co-counsel Erin Breen after the jury found him not guilty on all 10 charges Thursday in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.
— Photo by Rosie Mullaley/The Telegram

Proceedings hadn’t ended yet, but the 40-year-old opened the gate and went to the back of the courtroom to sit with his girlfriend in the observers’ seating area.

Blackmore held her hand and cried.

He was no longer a suspected criminal.

After just a day of deliberations, the seven men and five women of the jury acquitted Blackmore on all counts Thursday following a three-week trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.

“We’re relieved, obviously, for our client,” defence co-counsel Erin Breen told reporters outside the court. “He’s had an ordeal that I can’t describe — going from being a corporal with the RCMP to very publicly being accused of the most heinous crimes possible.”

Breen said while Blackmore is a resilient man, the ordeal has taken an emotional toll.

“It has been hell on him,” she said.

“It’s been a very difficult position for him, obviously, being an RCMP officer and then being investigated and charged by his own force.

“I can only imagine that he’s feeling very twisted about some of that, ... has some mixed emotions.”

Blackmore had been charged with six counts of assault, two counts of sexual assault and single counts of assault with a weapon (a knife) and careless use of a firearm.

He was accused of violent acts — both physical and sexual — against one woman and of assaulting a younger woman. He was charged in June 2012 and had not been in custody.

The incidents were said to have happened between 2005 and 2012 in various parts of the province where Blackmore had been stationed.

The main complainant, from whom most of the charges stemmed, had testified during the trial that Blackmore attacked her many times — grabbing her by the face and throat and throwing her to the floor, holding a knife to her throat, smothering her with a pillow and choking her to the point she thought she was going to die. She also said Blackmore forced himself on her sexually on two occasions.

The young woman testified that Blackmore pushed her with such force,  she landed 10 feet across the room, injuring her wrist and head.

When he took the stand, Blackmore denied committing any violent acts towards them. He said any force he used was minimal and meant only to calm them down.

A he said-she said case, the issue came down to the women’s reliability.

“We felt the Crown witnesses here did not have any credibility,” Breen said.

In closing arguments earlier this week, defence co-counsel Bob Simmonds said the women were liars and presented several examples of how they lied to the police and to the court.

The careless use of a firearm charge stemmed from an incident when an on-duty Blackmore reportedly passed around his loaded service rifle to a group of people.

Blackmore testified he had ejected the magazine containing the ammunition before allowing them to touch it.

Breen criticized RCMP investigators and said much of what came out in court should have been picked up by officers handling the case.

“We brought to light in the trial a lot of evidence that the police never had in the original investigation, which I think was a problem from day No. 1,” she said.

“There was clearly an investigation here that we felt was very one-sided and was full of tunnel vision and we feel we brought the full picture to light to the jury, and obviously the jury agreed.”

Blackmore lives in Gander and had been assigned to the Carmanville detachment. He hasn’t been on active duty while the case was before the court.

Before leaving the courtroom, Blackmore wiped tears, smiled and hugged his family members. He then shook Simmonds’ hand and hugged Breen.

Breen said Blackmore, who has a background in psychology, is unsure of his future, but will eventually decide the direction his life will take.

“At this point,” Breen said, “I don’t think he’s in a place to make that decision yet.”

 

rmullaley@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

 

(This story has been altered to fix a typo.)

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Gander

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Recent comments

  • Retired
    June 27, 2014 - 14:28

    All cases where the RCMP have investigated their own in NL should be re opened and a hard look taken at them and the accused people should be spoken to again. Many members of the Force pleaded guilty to internal issues to give them something to ensure the railroading stopped. Several investigators who investigated their own and the officer in this case have made it a practice to add what ever charges they can to force a plea bargain. One officer in particular used to pile on the charges to the public as well to force guilty pleas. Several of these types got away with a lot and in the case of Blackmore it seems to be the case . I wonder if he was the same investigator who got chastised in court for charging another member from the east coast a few years ago. This member was then and just before he retired was becoming a real concern but nothing was done about him. That is the way it is, the Force has to look good at all cost and they will never look into his files to save much embarrassment.

  • Roy
    June 27, 2014 - 09:48

    His own police force charged him. That almost never happens. They must have thought there was something to it.

  • JUDITH HARROWER
    June 27, 2014 - 09:13

    Even though not found guilty of any of the ten counts there will be long term negative aspects that this case generated. The publicity kept the case in the spotlight by indicating the officer was guilty. The RCMP has been tarnished just by having the officer being charged with violent offences - many will continue to believe that he is guilty based on the last five years when officers were branded in sexual harassment cases.