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'A sense of urgency': Sask. man accused of abducting daughter calls himself to the stand during trial

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Michael Gordon Jackson, the man on trial after being charged with contravention of a custody order for allegedly abducting his daughter in late 2021 to prevent her from getting a COVID-19 vaccine, called himself to the stand Monday.

Jackson, 53, who is representing himself in the trial is also the defence's first witness.

He began his testimony by admitting he was “nervous.”

“I fully believe through the evidence and testimony presented last week, the Crown has already proved my case,” Jackson said in his opening statement.

Jackson took the jury through the series of events starting well before November 2021, describing the divorce with his now ex-wife and the mother of their daughter as “bad.”

"When the marriage broke down, it wasn’t good,” he added. “Over the years, things got more complicated through the courts.”

According to the couple’s custody order in place at the time of the alleged events, the then seven-year-old girl’s mother had primary custody of the couple’s child.

The order states the mother had the final say regarding the daughter’s health and education but must consult the father before making a decision.

“When COVID-19 came out, I was confused,” Jackson told the court. “And as a father, I was concerned about [my daughter] getting COVID.”

Jackson testified he began doing research on the internet and on YouTube about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

“There was no way I was going to let them inject that stuff into my seven-year old daughter,” he said. “Things got more desperate for me.”

According to Jackson’s testimony, he attempted for eight months to have dialogue with his ex-wife about getting their child vaccinated.

Last week, the mother testified she had not made a decision on whether to get her child vaccinated.

“I was waiting for an announcement from the government and Saskatchewan Health,” she said.

Jackson added it was his wish to go through the court system to do so.

“Court systems have been extremely bias against the vaccine and against fathers,” he claimed.

Jackson then described a court hearing where he claimed the mother’s lawyer denied a request they hold off on getting the child vaccinated to allow for a judge to make a decision.

“It created a sense of urgency [in me],” Jackson said. “I felt [they] would take her and vaccinate her.”

He felt, “there was no remedy in the court,” and went into hiding following the hearing in November of 2021.

“My intention was not to disappear for the rest of my life,” Jackson added. “I felt I had to.”

Jackson said he withheld the child so she could not get the vaccine.

“I envisioned [the mother] would drive her right to the clinic,” he added.

The father felt he did what any other parent would do in his case.

“Just because I’m the only one in the country that did something, doesn’t mean I’m wrong,” Jackson said to conclude his testimony.

Cross examination

Crown Prosecutor Zoe Kim-Zeggelaar focused her cross examination on Jackson’s perceived distrust of the legal system.

In her questioning, she used the couple’s divorce as the starting point of that distrust.

“Were you unhappy with the courts and the outcomes of those proceedings?” Kim-Zeggelaar asked.

Jackson responded by saying “yes.”

Kim-Zeggelaar then asked Jackson to read a message he sent to an RCMP officer recorded in evidence.

“The courts are so incredibly corrupt,” the message from Jackson read.

Later in the cross examination, the prosecutor asked Jackson if a person’s word was important to him.

He responded, “yes.”

“On Nov. 15, 2021, you said you would return [your daughter] on Nov. 20,” Kim-Zeggelaar described. “Did you keep your word then?”

“I said I was going to,” Jackson said. “But I changed my mind later on that week.”

“And when you received a signed affidavit saying [the mother] would not vaccinate [the child], you still did not return her,” Kim-Zeggelaar went on to ask.

“I don’t hold any faith in an affidavit,” Jackson replied.

Submitted evidence showed correspondence the father had with police with requests Jackson had to return his daughter.

In them, he suggested he would be willing to go a “lengthy amount of time without seeing [his daughter].

“I had to atone for what I had done,” Jackson said. “And I was willing to do that.”

“It was my duty to protect [my daughter] from the vaccine, not keep her from her mother,” he added.

911 calls

Two 911 calls were played in court as part of Jackson’s defence from Dec. 1, 2021, before he went completely into hiding with the couple’s child.

Jackson said they were to show a fear he had while dealing with Carnduff RCMP.

In the calls, Jackson claimed RCMP were attempting to break into his house, where he and the couple’s daughter were at that the time.

The judge ruled what Jackson said during the calls were not to be taken as evidence by the jury, but rather to give them an idea of Jackson’s thought process at the time of the events.

During the calls, Jackson claimed his and the child’s life were being put in danger by police.

“I’m afraid [Carnduff RCMP] are going to do something,” Jackson said to the dispatcher.

The dispatcher then asked to confirm he did not want to talk to members from that detachment.

“No,” Jackson responded. “I will not.”

Jury letter

During Monday morning’s proceedings, the jury took a break for a discussion between the judge and counsel.

While discussion was ongoing, a court deputy sheriff brought a piece of paper into the room and handed it to Justice Heather MacMillian-Brown.

The paper was then passed to Jackson’s Amicus Curiae, Brady Knight, then to Crown Prosecutor Zoe Kim-Zeggelaar and then to Jackson himself at the witness stand.

Justice MacMillian-Brown said the note was from the jury and mentioned “concerning looks” from Jackson’s support person, Mr. Allan.

Known as a “McKenzie Friend” to the court, Allan had been sitting beside Jackson and assisting in note taking during the proceedings.

He is not acting as legal counsel.

Upon returning from the short break, Allan had not returned to his usual position on the defence side of the court.

The judge asked the jury to not take anything from Allan’s actions regarding Jackson’s testimony or credibility.

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