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Potter confessed murder to undercover police, trial hears

Dale Porter, 39, died after he was stabbed on his North River property in June 2014.
Dale Porter, 39, died after he was stabbed on his North River property in June 2014. - Contributed

Crown calls seven witnesses to testify during Day 1 of Allan Potter's murder trial in St. John's

The crime scene video opens with a voice.

"This is Corporal Wyllie of the Corner Brook RCMP Forensic Identification Section. ... This is the investigation of a sudden death in North River, Newfoundland and Labrador."

On the screen are images of a rural residential street, taken on a cloudy Sunday in June 2014. There's no sound apart from birds chirping, the occasional squawk of a police cruiser radio and the wind, which is making the yellow police tape surrounding Dale Porter's property billow.

Behind the camera, Wyllie records the scene. There's a tidy light brown house with a red door, with three vehicles in the driveway and a garage and shed in the back. There are cigarette butts on the cracked pavement of the road in front of the home, blown from the lawn before other police officers put rocks on them to hold them down. There are beer bottles and, next to a retaining wall at the end of the driveway, what appears to be random garbage.

Wyllie's close-up shot reveals the debris as medical, including a pillow, gauze, bandages and plastic wrapping. There's also a single white sneaker which, when shown in a courtroom larger than life projected on a courtroom wall, causes Porter's two sisters to cry.

There's a dark red stain on the driveway gravel, alleged to be Porter's blood, lost after he was fatally stabbed and left to die.

Dale Porter’s home in North River, Conception Bay North, as photographed by police investigators the day after he was found fatally stabbed at the end of his driveway.
Dale Porter’s home in North River, Conception Bay North, as photographed by police investigators the day after he was found fatally stabbed at the end of his driveway.

Porter, 39, was a crab and shrimp fisherman who spent the off-seasons driving a truck for Atlantic Grocery, his sister, Jennifer Reid, told the court Wednesday, showing the jury a photo of him. He was the father of two kids — aged nine and 14 — and was in the midst of a separation from his wife when he was killed.

Reid described Porter as a family man who visited his mother nearly every day and never missed a Sunday Jigg’s dinner at her place with his siblings.

Reid was the first witness to testify in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court at the trial of Allan Potter, 55, who is charged with murdering Porter.

Potter's trial opened with Sheldon Steeves — who is prosecuting the case alongside Erin Matthews — laying out for the jury a summary of the evidence against Potter.

Porter was having a few drinks with some friends at his home the night of June 28, 2014, Steeves said, and had done some cocaine, according to his autopsy results and evidence seized by police.

Around midnight, the group decided to go to a bar in Bay Roberts, where Porter bumped into a woman he knew. She was there with two men: one was her boyfriend at the time and the other was Potter. Both men were members of the Vikings Motorcycle Club, Steeves said.

When the bar closed at 3 a.m., Porter left the friends with whom he had arrived — who were going in a cab to drop some people off before heading back to Porter's house — and got into a cab with the woman, her boyfriend and Potter.

The three men got out at Porter's residence, while the woman stayed in the cab, asking the driver to take her home.

"She will say that after she left Dale Porter's with the cabbie, she got a call and she was asked to ask the cab driver to go back and get Mr. Potter and (the other man)," Steeves told the jury.

The name of the second man, who is also charged with murdering Porter, is banned from publication until he goes to trial.

"They drove back and the cab stopped a short distance down the road from Dale Porter's house and picked up Allan Potter and (the second man). They were driven to a garage in Cupids," Steeves continued, saying the woman and her boyfriend walked from there to her place, while Potter left on his motorcycle.

Upon arriving at Porter's residence, his friends found him seriously injured and lying in his driveway, Steeves said. They called for police and an ambulance, but Porter died minutes after arriving at Carbonear hospital.

"They buddied up to him, bought him drinks until they were in a position to do something about the disrespect. When they arrived in North River they jumped on him with the intent of doing him some serious harm, leading to his death." — Crown co-prosecutor Sheldon Steeves

Steeves told the jury Potter was arrested a week later, but not charged, though police seized items of his clothing that later tested positive for Porter's DNA. Police initiated an undercover operation to investigate Potter, with the help of two Vikings members acting as their agents. One of them, Steeves said, recorded Potter admitting his involvement in Porter's death.

Potter moved to Ontario in April 2015, keeping in touch with the police informant.

"Police devised what they called a high-impact operation in order to get Mr. Potter to admit to the murder," Steeves said. "The agent was directed to tell Mr. Potter he was working with a business doing debt collection and there was a position for Mr. Potter if he wanted it."

Allan Potter prepares to take his seat in the courtroom as testimony began in his murder trial in St. John’s Wednesday morning.
Allan Potter prepares to take his seat in the courtroom as testimony began in his murder trial in St. John’s Wednesday morning.

The owner of the fictitious business was actually an undercover police officer, and he asked Potter to help him locate two brothers who owed money to some of his clients. At one point, the undercover officer said he was going to have to kill one of the brothers.

"Mr. Potter was recruited into helping bury a body, which was actually a dead pig in disguise," Steeves said. "This, as a result, made Mr. Potter comfortable enough with the undercover officer to admit to him in a recorded conversation his responsibility for the death of Dale Porter."

The second Viking-turned-informant will testify he was present when a knife he recognized as Potter's was thrown into the ocean, Steeves said.

He said the agent will also testify Potter told him that he and the second man had planned to kill Porter that night in the bar in Bay Roberts because he was being disrespectful to the Vikings club.

"Dale Porter was disrespectful to the Vikings, making fun of the Vikings, he was spitting on their colours, and he was making indecent proposals to the female, who was (the second man's) girlfriend," Steeves said, explaining what Potter had reportedly disclosed. "They buddied up to him, bought him drinks until they were in a position to do something about the disrespect.

RCMP Sgt. Michael Wyllie, a forensics identification officer, prepares to testify at the murder trial of Allan Potter at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Wednesday.
RCMP Sgt. Michael Wyllie, a forensics identification officer, prepares to testify at the murder trial of Allan Potter at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Wednesday.

When they arrived in North River they jumped on him with the intent of doing him some serious harm, leading to his death."

Potter sat through the first day of his trial at a small table next to the dock, making detailed notes on documents as testimony was presented.

The Crown called seven witnesses on Wednesday, including the first police officers on the scene, forensic identification officers and two members of the Ontario Provincial Police, who testified

via video to having located Potter and executing a warrant for his DNA, as requested by the RCMP in this province. Potter was "very polite and co-operative," they said.

Porter's family members were in the courtroom, and told reporters they plan to attend the entire trial.

Potter's lawyers, Randy Piercey and Jon Noonan, declined to present any opening remarks to the jury.

The trial will continue Thursday, with Justice Garrett Handrigan presiding.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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