Defence lawyer Tony Zipp grilled a Prince George RCMP officer about his decision to enter a residence without a warrant as a sexual assault trail entered its second day on Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court.
Zipp's client, who can't be named due to a court-ordered publication ban, is charged with 10 counts relating to sexual assault allegations by two of his stepdaughters. He also faces two counts of bestiality involving the family dog and two counts relating to child pornography.
The trial is being heard by Justice Selwyn Romilly without a jury.
Zipp challenged RCMP Const. Vince Reddekopp about his decision to enter the defendant's apartment on Dec. 21, 2010 and unplug and remove the batteries from all electronic devices. The defendant was arrested at his apartment prior to Reddekopp entering the premises and a search warrant was obtained the following day, when many of the electronics were seized along with other items relating to the investigation.
"You could have waited until you had a search warrant and affected the arrest at the same time (as the warrant was executed)," Zipp said to Reddekopp at one point during the close to two-hour cross-examination.
Reddekopp, who has been assigned to the child sex crimes unit for three years, countered that he was concerned the defendant would be able to erase data from computers remotely, which could have led to the loss of evidence.
He said due to the amount of material the police had gleaned from witness interviews, he knew it would take at least a day for the warrant to be issued.
"It was a tough decision to make," Reddekopp said. "I felt it was important to get in there as soon as possible to prevent the loss of any digital evidence."
Reddekopp was also concerned the defendant knew about the investigation and may have already started erasing data prior to the police's arrival.
Zipp asked Reddekopp to explain how a man in police custody could have remotely wiped the hard drives and then challenged the police officer's answer that he could have done so through a phone call.
According to the opening statement by Crown prosecutor Cassandra Malfair on Tuesday, the two stepdaughters allege the man began touching them sexually when they were 12 years old and it soon escalated to oral sex and intercourse. The elder stepdaughter is expected to testify the abuse began in the year 2000 went on for 10 years, while the younger daughter was able to stop the abuse and move out of the family home when she turned 18, according to Malfair.
Malfair claims many of the sexual encounters were videotaped and some of those videos as well as still images from the video files have been entered into evidence by Reddekopp. Many of those videos were uncovered when police searched the family home, which the defendant had vacated eight days prior to his arrest. After he left the family home he moved into the apartment that was the subject of the Dec. 21, 2010 arrest.
The eldest stepdaughter also provided police with sex toys -- some of which appeared to be homemade -- which she told police her stepfather gave to her to use during their sexual encounters. Those were also entered as evidence on Wednesday.
The cross-examination of Reddekopp provided a glimpse into the defence Zipp is planning to mount. In addition to challenging the police officer on the search warrant, he also got Reddekopp to admit that the time stamps on some of the videos may not be accurate because the time must be set on the camcorder manually.
Zipp, who consulted with his client frequently during the cross-examination, also asked questions about the functionality of some of the sex toys which had been entered into evidence and had questions about a password to one of the defendant's email accounts.
The trial continues today.