Two police officers testified Thursday that the man accused of burning down Ainsworth’s Silver Ledge Hotel made incriminating statements to them.
Randy Hanoski, 54, is accused of setting the June 3, 2010 blaze and is standing trial in Nelson Provincial Court before Judge Ron Fabbro, who is hearing the case without a jury. Hansoki has pled not guilty to one count of arson.
Cpl. Darryl Orr told the court Hanoski made a series of unsolicited statements as he and Cpl. Devon Reid transported him to Trail in an unmarked police vehicle.
Orr said as they left Ainsworth, Hanoski told them “I’m really upset the porch is gone, but my emotions got the better of me.”
Orr, who was sitting net to Hanoski in the back seat, said he jotted down a note at the time and then wrote out the exact quote once they got to the detachment.
Orr also quoted Hanoski as saying “I wanted to watch it burn. I felt very frustrated,” and “I got drunk. They I got angry.”
He testified that the statements were made at different times during the trip, and were not elicited by anything the officers asked or said.
The defence is challenging the admissibility of the statements, arguing they were not provided voluntarily.
Reid corroborated the statements and testified that although Hanoski was quiet at first, while en route to Trail he talked to them about golfer Tiger Woods’ indiscretions, U.S. politics, and the officers’ duties with the general investigation section.
Reid said they didn’t discuss the arson investigation, nor ask Hanoski about it, preferring to wait until they reached the detachment.
Orr didn’t recall the nature of their conversation, other than the statements he noted, which he said were non-sequiturs.
Both officers said Hanoski understood what was going on.
They both testified that they smelled stale alcohol on Hanoski. Orr also commented that he offered Hanoski a cigarette at one point, but he declined because he didn’t smoke.
Under cross-examination, Reid said it was not his practice to record conversations while transporting suspects in custody. Orr said because he was driving, he made mental notes of Hanoski’s comments and then wrote them down once he reached the detachment.
Crown prosecutor Sunday Patola subsequently argued the statements should be admitted as voluntary. There was no indication Hanoski was confused or unaware of what was going on while he was in the police car, she said.
She further argued the officers did not use threats or promises to induce Hanoski to make the statements, and all their dealings with him were “cordial and professional.”
There was “no improper trickery … no subterfuge,” and nothing compelling him to make those statements, she said.
The judge asked if Hanoski might have thought his statements were not on the record, as they weren’t in a formal interview setting. Patola replied that Hanoski had been read his rights and talked to legal aid, and therefore was warned anything he said could be used as evidence against him.
The judge also wondered why no evidence was introduced from Hanoski’s formal police interview.
Officer testifies about letter
Also Thursday, Kaslo RCMP Cst. Mark McAuley told the court about a letter Hanoski allegedly mailed the night before the fire that police took from the Ainsworth post office.
The defence disputes the letter’s admissibility, arguing its seizure violated Hanoski’s Charter rights.
McAuley said the envelope contained a card with a fabric bow, $540 in $20 bills, and four loose leaf, double-sided handwritten pages. The letter’s content was not revealed in court, although police said they seized it because they were concerned it might be a suicide note.
Meanwhile, deputy sheriff Dennis Mirva testified he went to the Trail RCMP detachment the day after Hanoski was arrested to pick him up and his effects.
A guard handed him a backpack, which Mirva searched and found a lighter inside.
“I thought it might be of interest as evidence for police,” he said. Mirva testified he handed it to a police officer.
The Crown has one witness left to call. It’s not clear if Hanoski will testify in his own defence.