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Potter unfazed by fake murder scenario, Newfoundland court hears

Allan Potter (right) reviews his notes with his lawyer, Randy Piercey, in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Tuesday, as a sheriff’s officer looks on.
Allan Potter (right) reviews his notes with his lawyer, Randy Piercey, in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Tuesday, as a sheriff’s officer looks on. - Tara Bradbury

'I had made it pretty clear I had committed murder and we were moving a dead body': Undercover RCMP officer

The undercover RCMP officers called it a prop: the body of a deceased pig, weighing between 150 and 200 pounds, shaved and wrapped in sheets. To make it look more authentic, the officers gave it a few knife wounds and poured blood on it before stuffing it into a hockey goalie bag and leaving it under some trees next to an Ontario cornfield.

The Mounties were hoping Allan Potter would believe the prop was the body of a man who was murdered by a debt collector after he had failed to cough up the large sum of cash he owed.

The pig was part of a carefully-orchestrated operation by RCMP officers in Ontario and Newfoundland, with the goal of making Potter comfortable enough to open up to them about his involvement, if he had any, in the murder of Dale Porter.

Porter, 39, died after having been stabbed almost 20 times in the early morning of June 29, 2014. The fisherman and father of two was found lying in his North River, Conception Bay North driveway. Potter, now 55, and another man who cannot be named at this point have been charged with Porter's murder.

Dale Porter.
Dale Porter.

Potter had been arrested and questioned in the subsequent days, but not charged. He later went to Ontario, where he was introduced by a friend — who was secretly working as an agent for the RCMP — to a business associate. That associate, who was actually an undercover police officer, ran a debt collection business, Potter was told, and wanted to hire Potter.

Potter was serving a prison sentence for an assault charge at the time, but plans were made for him to start work on a small job as soon as he was released.

On Sept. 25, 2016, the day his jail sentence was finished, Potter met the businessman and was told they would be looking for two brothers who owed a large amount of money. The pair drove to a bar called the Barking Cat in a small town called Belmont, where they met another "business associate," the court heard Tuesday morning.

Once the three men sat down at a table over beer and chicken wings, the second businessman, also an undercover Mountie, told the others he had run into a little problem.

"I told (the first undercover officer) I had been looking for the brothers and I had found one and I did him in, meaning I killed him," the second officer testified Tuesday at Potter's murder trial.

He hadn't meant to kill him, he explained at the time, but "things went sideways."

"I told him I had scrubbed the (van) seat pretty good and I thought we were good on that, but I needed help disposing of the body."

The officer said he sat alone with Potter at the table after his colleague left on the pretense of making calls to some contacts to figure out a plan for the body. He offered Potter some wings, and Potter told him that he had just gotten out of jail after serving time for a violent offence, he said.

"I said, ‘So you're solid?’ He said, 'F--- yeah,'" the RCMP constable testified. "And then I fist-pumped him."

The first officer then returned with a plan: they'd pick up the body, drive the 45 minutes or so to London, and meet a contact who worked in a cemetery. There had been a funeral earlier in the day, the officer explained, and they could bury the body in the fresh grave.

With Potter and the first officer in one vehicle and the second officer leading the way in his van, they drove to a nearby cornfield, where the hockey bag was waiting.

"I unzipped the zipper and opened it up. It was getting dark at this point," the second undercover officer told the court. "(The first officer) looked and Mr. Potter looked very briefly. I zipped it back up."

The three men carried the bag to the van with Potter doing the heavy lifting, the officer testified. They then drove to the cemetery.

At the gate, the cemetery worker met them in a backhoe. After letting them in, he advised them to turn off their vehicle lights.

"I then leaned into (the first officer's) vehicle and advised him he needed to give me more time, the next time he wanted this done," the worker told the court.

He, too, was an undercover Mountie.

"It was meant for Mr. Potter to hear, to establish that we had a relationship."

Potter and his "business associates" half-carried, half-dragged the hockey bag to the shallow grave, as directed by the worker, and threw it in. They then went back to the road. The plan was for the worker to fill in the grave later.

"How was the mood between the three individuals as they were interacting with you?" Crown prosecutor Erin Matthews asked the officer who had played the cemetery worker.

"The overall mood was motivated. There was a task at hand, and they were kind of motivated to get the job done."

Matthews asked the same question to the officer who had played the role of the killer.

"At the cemetery, I don't know if excited is the right word, but it didn't seem to faze him one bit." — Under RCMP Officer on Allan Potter's demeanor.

"I had made it pretty clear I had committed murder and we were moving a dead body. The mood was just a focus to get the job done. A calm focus."

"Can you describe how Mr. Potter was?" Matthews asked.

"He seemed pretty calm. Unfazed by what was going on," the officer replied. "He became eager to help. At the cemetery, I don't know if excited is the right word, but it didn't seem to faze him one bit."

The officer said Potter had asked him for bleach to clean his hands, and he brought a jug from the van. The three men cleaned their hands before Potter suggested they wash the soles of their shoes, as well.

"We said 'Good idea,'" the officer told the court. "There was a bit of a smell in the van from the pig, and Mr. Potter said, 'If you leave the top of the bleach open in the van, that will take the smell out.' We said that was a good idea, too."

The constable said he had followed Potter and the first officer away from the cemetery before turning back and helping his colleague, the "cemetery worker," retrieve the hockey bag and dispose of the pig. The hole was subsequently filled back in.

Defence lawyer Randy Piercey questioned the constable on the number of beer he had consumed in the Barking Cat while waiting for the others to arrive. The officer said he didn't remember how many he had ordered, but he was not intoxicated.

Piercey also asked him if he remembered Potter being startled by a noise while they were in the cornfield. The officer said he didn't remember a noise.

"If there had been a noise and he had been startled, is that something you would make notes on?" Piercey asked.

"I didn't hear any sound in that field," the officer replied.

Piercey also questioned the undercover Mountie about the light outside the bar, as well as in the field that night.

Allan Potter.
Allan Potter.

"Did the fact that it was dark assist in making (the pig) look like a human body?" he asked.

"I would say so, yes," the officer responded.

When it came to the officer who had posed as the cemetery worker, Piercey asked whether or not the scenario had made it clear at the time that he and the "business associates" were friends.

That was the purpose of the conversation about needing more time in the future, the police sergeant replied.

Piercey also questioned the officer on whether Potter had asked specifically for bleach or for something to clean his hands, since the officer and his colleague had testified differently on that point.

The sergeant said Potter had asked for something to clean himself with, and the other officer had said he had bleach.

The officers told the court they had not been wearing recording devices that night.

The Crown is expected to call the RCMP officer who played Potter's main "business associate" to the stand when court resumes Wednesday morning.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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