A Kamloops woman at the centre of an alleged gang-related kidnapping last year denied having been taken against her will dozens of times and felt pressure from police officers to tell them what they wanted to hear, a judge has been told.
Mike Mathieson is standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops on charges of robbery, unlawful confinement and kidnapping in connection with a series of incidents on Feb. 14, 2019.
Court has heard police monitoring a wiretap as part of an unrelated investigation stumbled upon what they believed to be a robbery and kidnapping taking place at the Acadian Inn on Columbia Street in the east end of downtown Kamloops.
According to the Crown, Mathieson and two other men lured two men to the motel and robbed them, then kidnapped one of the men’s girlfriend.
In court on Thursday, the woman said the men stole her boyfriend’s truck and took her to his home in Dallas, which they ransacked. She said she was then taken by the men to Kelowna.
“They were saying that if the police ever asked me anything about this, that they told me to say [her boyfriend] planned this whole robbery because he owed someone money and he just didn’t want to pay them back, so he planned and staged the whole thing,” the woman said, noting the men told her she would be sexually assaulted if she didn’t comply with their orders.
“They told me to say that otherwise there would be repercussions.”
In Kelowna, the woman testified, Mathieson paid a person she called “a crackhead” to drive her back to Kamloops. Crown prosecutor Lindsay Pearce said the woman was rescued by police in Falkland while en route back to Kamloops.
Under cross-examination from Joe Killoran, the woman said she was unwilling to say she had been kidnapped for months after the incident, despite “high-pressure tactics” used by police in the hours after her rescue.
“I’m going to suggest to you the police were telling you they were not going to leave you alone until you tell them you were kidnapped,” Killoran said. “Would you agree?”
“Yes,” she said. “I wanted to go home.”
“I’m going to suggest the police wouldn’t let you until you told them you were kidnapped,” Killoran said.
“They would not take me home,” she replied. “They drove around with me. They were intimidating me.”
The woman said she changed her mind four months later and told police in a June 2019 interview that she had been kidnapped.
Mathieson is being tried alone, but he has two co-accused facing similar charges. Justin Daniels has entered guilty pleas and is slated to return to court for sentencing on Oct. 9. Robert Rennie has been on the lam since he was granted bail earlier this year. A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The Crown is expected to close its case early next week.
Mathieson is not in custody.
The Valentine’s Day incident was part of a series of high-profile gang-related violence in Kamloops in late 2018 and early 2019.
Troy Gold, a man with ties to the city’s drug trade, was murdered in October 2018. Five men have been charged in connection with his death.
Two men, Cody Mathieu and Rex Gill, were gunned down in separate shootings outside hotels on Jan. 23, 2019. Police have said those murders were related to an ongoing gang conflict in the city, but no arrests have been made. Police say Gill’s death may have been a case of mistaken identity.
On Feb. 15, 2019, Justin Glover was killed and Kelly Callfas suffered gunshot wounds to her face in a gang-related shooting in Brocklehurst. Gordie Braaten and Hugh McIntosh have been charged with murder and attempted murder in connect with the incident. Both men are in custody.
The violence stemmed from a vacuum in the city’s drug trade left by the September 2017 murder of Konaam Shirzad, a co-founder of the Red Scorpions gang. No arrests have been made in connection with Shirzad’s slaying near his Guerin Creek home, but prosecutors have said police have “viable suspects.”