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Crown's final witnesses take stand in trial for Sask. man accused of abducting daughter

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The Crown has presented its case against Michael Gordon Jackson as the first of a two-week trial came to a close Friday morning with the arresting officers taking the stand.

Jackson, 53, is standing trial for contravention of a custody order for withholding his then seven-year-old daughter from November 2021 to February 2022 from the child’s mother and his ex-wife in order to prevent the child from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

The two were found in Vernon, B.C. after a Canada-wide warrant was placed on Jackson.

Retired RCMP officer Cpl. Spencer Hornoi was the Vernon RCMP roads patrol supervisor in February 2022. He was one of two officers who made Jackson’s arrest on Feb. 24.

Hornoi was notified of the Canada-wide warrant from a phone call with RCMP in Saskatchewan.

“Saskatchewan major crimes requested urgent assistance with a file related to an abduction contrary to an order,” he recalled.

The officer testified that investigators in Saskatchewan used cell phone tracking to pin a phone believed to be in possession on Jackson to the north end of Vernon B.C.

Cpl. Hornoi and Vernon RCMP operations officer Sgt. Toril Romailler responded to the request.

Both officers told the court the pinned location was approximate to a 79 m radius.

“The [pinned location] was near a Wendy’s restaurant and the Riveria Plaza Hotel,” Sgt. Romailler explained.

Investigators also provided Hornoi with photos of Jackson and the black 2005 Honda Pilot he was believed to have been driving.

The officers said they travelled to the pinned location in Sgt. Romailler’s unmarked RCMP cruiser, stopping at a residence they believed Jackson had a connection to along the way.

Neither Jackson nor the vehicle were at that location.

They continued to the centre of the pinned location’s radius.

“[The car] was not at the Wendy’s or any of the adjacent hotels either,” Hornoi said.

Jackson's arrest

Hornoi said the Village Green Mall was across from the hotel.

The officers told the court they drove there to continue their search for the suspect’s vehicle.

“In entering the parking lot, I recognized the vehicle we were looking for,” Hornoi testified.

Hornoi said the car matched the description they were sent from Saskatchewan and had a vanity plate that matched the photos.

The officer said he got out of the cruiser and approached the suspected vehicle on foot from behind while Sgt. Romailler drove slowly around to the front of the car to use his cruiser as a block.

Hornoi and Romailler both claimed they saw a man sitting in the driver seat with a child sitting in the passenger seat when they approached.

“I recognized Mr. Jackson from the photos and previous media coverage,” Hornoi said. “I asked [him] if he was Mr. Jackson and he replied in the affirmative.”

Cpl. Hornoi then placed Jackson under arrest for abduction contrary of a custody order stemming from the Canada-wide warrant on him at the time.

“[He] was very calm and cooperative [during the arrest],” Hornoi said.

Hornoi said Jackson was read his charter rights and booked at the detachment.

He added two cell phones were seized by police. No other property was taken from Jackson.

Sgt. Romailler attended to the girl.

“She appeared scared and upset because police were dealing with her and her father,” he told the court. “I told her, ‘Police were here to keep [them] safe.’”

Romailler said he organized a way to get the child to the Vernon RCMP detachment and called the BC Ministry of Child and Family Services to arrange a social worker take care of the girl while there.

The daughter was in the care of police and family services for four or five hours, according to Sgt. Romailler, before her mother arrived in Vernon.

That was the end of the officer’s interaction with the family.

Jackson, as a self-represented party, chose not to cross examine either officer.

The jury was dismissed for the weekend and the Crown rested its case against Jackson.

It is expected Jackson will testify as part of his own defense early next week. 

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