Toronto homicide detective stole drugs from evidence lockers as many as 20 times

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A former Toronto police homicide detective who resigned earlier this year after stealing opioids from the force’s evidence locker has admitted in court that he used drugs on 20 separate occasions in at least 18 months. removed.

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Last month at Ontario Superior Court at cross-examination in a murder case, retired D.T. Paul Worden testified that he took drugs from active cases. One example involved extracting “three or four Percocet pills” from evidence related to the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Cardinal Liquorice in November 2018, an investigation Worden conducted at one time. Prosecutors have since withdrawn charges of second-degree murder against the accused in the case.

“(a) your experience as an officer was that you were actively obstructing justice?” Monte McGregor, the defense attorney for one of the two accused, was asked at cross-examination last month.

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“I didn’t think – yes, you’re right. I didn’t really think about it at the time, but I did it, yes,” replied Worden.

“And you knew it was in relation to something serious, a murder trial and an ongoing investigation?” McGregor continued.

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“Well, I knew that, yes,” she replied.

Worden’s testimony provides new details about an internal investigation into his conduct — and the ripple effect on the justice system — nine months after the officer abruptly resigned, admitting he had removed opioids from the evidence locker. This entry came after a suspicious locker entry became the focus of an internal investigation.

The incident is part of a small but growing number of cases in which officers steal drugs from their police service evidence lockers, in some circumstances causing injuries to them after suffering chronic pain.

Worden’s attorney, Peter Brutti, previously said that his client — a 31-year veteran with an accomplished career — was feeding an addiction that began with prescription painkillers and an injury on the job.

Worden’s conduct prompted an external review by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) that Toronto Police say is ongoing, and which is investigating the impact on ongoing drug trials and murder cases.

Worden was testifying in a pre-trial motion at the second-degree murder trial of Raheem Moseley, one of two men charged with the murder of Licorish, who was gunned down in the stairwell of a Scarborough Building on November 18, 2018. Moseley’s co-accused in the murder, a 17-year-old boy who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was acquitted of second-degree murder last year but convicted of felony after the fact of murder was ordained.

Crown prosecutors withdrew second-degree murder charges against Moseley on Friday after McGregor and co-counsel Amanda Warth proposed to exclude the statement of a key witness.

Although Worden’s actions may have become an issue at trial, they did not influence the Crown’s decision to withdraw the charge, McGregor said, as other factors were likely to come into play in determining that there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction.

The case is the second homicide trial that has caused disruption after the theft of a drug vault. Earlier this year, the trial of a youth accused of stabbing deaths in 2018 The two teenagers were delayed shortly after the theft was discovered by Toronto police.

Since Worden’s conduct was revealed, there have been at least six federal drug cases, the star confirmed.

Worden was not criminally charged for any theft, a controversial decision criticized as a double standard for police, but called Progressive by Brutti, who said police were treating incidents as a mental health issue. Believes, in turn, will set a good example for all otherwise.

“In the future, people will be able to point to the matter and say that there was a recognition of a medical issue, as opposed to an actual criminal issue,” Brutti told the Star earlier this year.

In an interview, McGregor said he was sorry to hear that Worden suffered from drug addiction, calling him a professional and respected officer in past behavior. But he said the rule of law “demands equality under the law.”

“That’s the basis of it, our whole system is built on that,” he said. “When people are giving preferential treatment and better treatment, you have to question who are the participants who are allowing this to happen.”

Asked whether the OPP is investigating the Toronto police’s decision not to criminally charge Worden, Meghan Gray said the force “hopes this will form part of the OPP review.”

The findings of the OPP report will not automatically be made public.

“Any decision on whether or not this will be released to the public will be a joint decision of (Toronto Police) and the OPP, in consultation with the Attorney General’s ministry,” Gray said in a statement. Gray said the OPP is “considering how and when the opioids were taken” as part of the review.

“It is worth noting that addiction and mental health issues are complex and unique to individuals and, often, have limited visual cues,” Gray said.

Under cross-examination by McGregor, Worden – who was called as a witness as part of the pre-trial motion – said he had been on prescription painkillers for 15 years, beginning with a shoulder separation injury. Which required multiple surgeries. Worden said he then had a fight in a courtroom, where he broke a few ribs, which then led to severe arthritis.

“18 months, or a little past that you were doing this, taking these demonstrations clearly as an officer, you recognize the illegal choice you are making in doing this, right?” McGregor asked.

“Yes,” replied the warden.

“You knew at the time that you did such a thing that it actively involved taking performance from ongoing affairs?” McGregor later continued.

“Something,” replied the warden.

McGregor’s co-counsel Warth said in an interview this week that when news of Worden’s conduct first surfaced there was a suggestion that the drugs were primarily derived from inactive cases, implying that his actions “do no harm.” There was no dishonesty.”

“What is clear from our case is that the drugs were taken from an ongoing investigation,” she said.

The investigation into Worden’s removal of drugs from the Toronto Police Evidence Locker was also taken up in Scarborough court earlier this year in a separate but related case, initially charged in connection with Licorice’s murder.

Since the young man refused to answer questions when called as a witness at Moseley’s preliminary hearing, he was charged with contempt of court. During a hearing on sentencing for youth in May 2021, his lawyer, Andrew Vaughan, raised Worden’s opioid theft – which came to light a few months after his client was cleared in Licorice’s death, but secondary after the fact. was convicted of.

According to a summary of his arguments in the judgment written by Justice Kate Doorly, Vaughan argued that he made “a significant number of concessions” in his client’s murder trial, and that he “relied faithfully on the integrity of the authorities”. Therefore.”

Vaughan argued that, if information about Worden’s conduct had become known sooner, his client “could have been released on bail – because the disclosure of this plagiarism had the potential to undermine the integrity of the prosecution, According to Dorley’s decision.

In his ruling on sentencing, the judge said it was “hard if not impossible” to predict whether the young man would have been released had Worden been known in advance. The judge sentenced the young man to just under 14 months in prison, saying he did not find Worden’s plagiarism was relevant.

“Whether it was a court of equity, perhaps, but I don’t see how that affects the conviction for contempt,” Doorly said.

A spokesman for the Public Prosecutors Service of Canada (PPSC) – federal drug prosecutors – confirmed that the PPSC had stayed charges in six of its cases as a result of information received from OPP investigators probing the Worden case. It will not provide any further information including the nature of the allegations or the names of the accused.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter who covers crime and policing for Star. Reach him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @wendygillis

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