Christopher Garnier appealing murder conviction in death of off-duty cop

Jury found Garnier guilty in December, rejecting his claim she died accidentally during rough sex

Christopher Garnier, who strangled Nova Scotia police officer Catherine Campbell and then used a green bin to dispose of her body, is appealing his conviction.

In December, a 12-member jury found the 30-year-old man guilty of second-degree murder, rejecting his claim that she died accidentally during rough sex. He was also found guilty of interfering with a dead body.

A notice filed with the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal identified several grounds for the appeal, including that Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Joshua Arnold’s final instructions to the jury were too complex.

“The (judge’s) charge to the jury was so complicated and convoluted that no ordinary juror would be able to understand it,” the four-page document said, filed on Tuesday.

The jury deliberated for less than five hours before coming back with a verdict.

Arnold then sentenced Garnier to life in prison — the automatic sentence for a second-degree murder conviction. A hearing to determine his parole eligibility is set for May 7.

The appeal claims Garnier’s rights were violated under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — which protects the life, liberty and security of a person — and that the verdict was not “reasonably supported by the evidence.”

It also said Arnold was wrong to determine that a second statement Garnier gave police was free and voluntary, and that he erred in not allowing opinion evidence from a doctor on whether the statement was free and voluntary.

Court heard Garnier met the 36-year-old Truro police constable at a Halifax bar in the early hours of Sept. 11, 2015.

The jury watched surveillance video showing Garnier and Campbell kissing and dancing before leaving the Halifax Alehouse around 3:30 a.m. The prosecution said the two went to a McCully Street apartment, where Garnier was staying with a friend.

Crown attorney Christine Driscoll told the jury Garnier lost control during a sexual encounter with Campbell, stuffed her lifeless body into a compost bin, and dumped her remains in thick brush near the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge and the city’s naval dockyards.

During a nine-hour recorded interview with police, Garnier said he hit Campbell with his fist and had his hands around her throat as she was choking, but he repeatedly said he could not remember other details from that night.

Testifying in his own defence, Garnier told the jury through tears that during sex play, Campbell encouraged him to choke and slap her.

After Campbell died, Garnier said his vision became blurry, he heard loud noises and he couldn’t remember much else.

Under cross-examination, Driscoll asked Garnier why he did not call 911 or attempt CPR, despite his training as a firefighter. He did not offer an explanation.

The jury saw surveillance video from a business adjacent to the McCully Street apartment that showed a man rolling a compost bin towards and then away from the flat.

He was arrested on Sept. 16, 2015, just hours after police found Campbell’s body face down on a steep embankment.

During the trial, the jury heard that blood spatter evidence was found inside the apartment and that Campbell’s DNA was found on Garnier’s T-shirt, necklace and the clasp of his watch. A garbage bag with Garnier’s T-shirt and Campbell’s keys was located in a dumpster across the street.

Garnier filed the appeal from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Centre in Halifax, where he is being held. Defence lawyer Joel Pink, who represented Garnier during his trial, said in an email that he is not currently representing Garnier, but that could change.

Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

WATCH: Fire crews extinguish single vehicle fire

Firefighters quickly douse flames under hood of pick up Saturday

Bortolussi a household name at complex

Cheers echo throughout the rafters of the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

What does home look like to you?

Columnist David Zirnhelt drops us a line from Mexico

Mount Polley to begin dredging Springer Pit

Water and tailings being stored in the Springer Pit since the 2014 breach will now be returned to the tailings storage facility.

Update: Snowfall warning ends for Williams Lake Friday, Feb 23

Several centimetres of snow is expected by the afternoon

Evacuated cat finds his way home seven months after B.C. wildfires

‘He just decided he was going on a holiday — an extended holiday’

The way government learn someone has died is getting a digital overhaul

Governments in Canada turned to private consultants 2 years ago to offer blueprint

Bobsleigh team misses Olympic medal finish

Canadian team finishes four-man event 0.84 seconds behind first place, 0.31 seconds from podium

B.C. Games: Athletes talk Team Canada at PyeongChang 2018

From Andi Naudie to Evan McEachran there’s an Olympian for every athlete to look up to

Snowboarders sliding into fresh territory at B.C. Games

Athletes hit the slopes for first appearance as an event at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops

Cariboo woman raises funds for Seizure Investigation Unit beds at VGH

VGH Foundation gets VCH approval to begin fundraising for SIU beds; local efforts are paying off

Looking back at the 1979 B.C. Games: Good memories, even better jackets

39 years later, Kamloops is hosting the Winter Games again, with some volunteers returning

OLYMPICS 101: Oldest and youngest Canadians to reach the podium

This year, Canada sent its most athletes in Winter Games history, here’s a look at record breakers

BCHL Today: Cowichan Caps play spoiler and Nanaimo wins 10th straight game

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read