Sting ‘created’ luring crime

I nvestigators “manufactured a crime” in their dealings with a Calgary police officer who asked a teen girl online to send him a nude photo, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Defence lawyer Willie deWit said there was no evidence Randann Scott Sargent, 27, would have committed a criminal offence if an undercover officer had not presented the opportunity, nor that he had done anything illegal prior to the covert investigation.

Sargent, a constable with the Calgary Police Service, pleaded guilty Tuesday to using the Internet to ask someone he thought was a 17-year-old girl to send a picture of her private parts. Such a photo would constitute child pornography.

The plea was required for deWit to move ahead with a defence of entrapment and will ask the judge to stay the charge.

During final arguments in the case, deWit said police did not have reasonable suspicion Sargent would commit a crime before they created a covert investigation that saw an undercover detective set up an online persona of a 17-year-old girl to approach Sargent.

A hunch or intuition based on an officer’s experience is not reasonable suspicion to warrant pursuing the undercover operation, deWit said.

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“They wanted to create a situation where he would commit a criminal offence and that is exactly what happened after a lengthy period of time,” he said following the proceedings.

DeWit said Sargent was clearly tested during the first online chat with “Jesse” when he learned she was 17 and said she’d have to get back in touch with him when she was older.

“Here the state has manufactured a crime,” deWit said.

“They (investigators) said this many times in their testimony; they were testing him.”

However, Crown prosecutors argued Det. Randy Wickins, posing as the 17-year-old girl “Jesse,” only gave Sargent an opportunity to talk to a teen online.

“There was no first invitation to the accused to commit a crime,” Craig Krieger said.

Krieger suggested to provincial court Judge J.D. Holmes that if he read only “Jesse’s” portion of the chats, he would have no idea what the two were even discussing.

“It becomes very clear that there was nothing done or said by police to hint to the accused to ask her to make and distribute child pornography,” he said.

Sargent has been suspended without pay since charges were laid last year.

Calgary Police Association head John Dooks said the police chief will review the case after the outcome of the criminal proceedings, but it “will be an uphill battle” for Sargent if the decision is to let him continue as an officer.

The case is due back in court on July 28 when Holmes is expected to give his decision.

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