DNA from cigarette leads to charges in Harbour Grace incident

Terry Roberts editor@cbncompass.ca
Published on January 9, 2014
Then Harbour Grace Mayor Don Coombs is seen inspecting the damage done to the town's water treatment facility on Bannerman Lake Road on May 25, 2013.
Photo by Nicholas Mercer/The Compass

More than seven months after a disturbing act of vandalism at the water treatment facility in Harbour Grace, police say the three males they believe responsible for the incident will soon go before the courts.

More than seven months after a disturbing act of vandalism at the water treatment facility in Harbour Grace, police say the three males they believe responsible for the incident will soon go before the courts.

And it was a discarded cigarette butt left at the scene, along with helpful tips from the public, that helped investigators advance the case, said RCMP Sgt. Greg Hicks.

Hicks said DNA evidence recovered from the butt will place one of the three suspects — two youths ages 15 and 17 from the Conception Bay North region, and a 20-year-old man from Bay Roberts — at the scene of the May 25, 2013 incident.

Further investigation helped investigators compile enough evidence to lay charges.

All three are scheduled to appear at provincial court in Harbour Grace on March 5 on charges of break and enter and mischief/property damage over $5,000.

Hicks said investigators felt the incident was serious enough to pursue every possible lead, and though it took time, the effort produced results.

“We wanted to send a message that this is not going to be tolerated,” Hicks said.

The damage was discovered late in the morning on May 25 during a daily check of the facility.

Police say damage to the site was estimated at nearly $30,000, and town officials were forced to implement a week-long boil-water advisory as a precaution.

Vandals damaged the electrical meter to the plant, which is located on Bannerman Lake Road. The locks of both doors were tampered with, and the vandals had gained access to the building by completely removing the lock on one of the doors.

Pipes and valves were broken, a vent was removed from the roof, and light fixtures smashed. Damage was also done to an emergency shutdown system, prompting the boil order. The screen house was also damaged, with what appear to be axe marks in the door. Nothing was taken from the facility.