Harassment trial gets underway

BC Supreme Court in Salmon Arm heard evidence regarding alleged harassment

BC Supreme Court in Salmon Arm heard evidence regarding alleged harassment during the first two days of a possible five-day trial into charges facing Victor Keith Chancellor.

Chancellor faces one count of counselling another person to commit an indictable offence – an assault – that was not committed, as well as two counts of criminal harassment. The first charge is alleged to have taken place between March and May of 2010, while the two counts of criminal harassment are alleged to have occurred between Sept. 4, 2009 and Jan. 4, 2011.

Crown counsel Bill Hilderman called four witnesses for the Crown over the course of Thursday and Friday, Nov. 22 and 23. Mr. Justice Dev Dley is hearing the case, which is being heard by judge alone.

Testifying for the Crown were Shannon Chancellor, estranged spouse of Keith Chancellor; Steven Simmons, current spouse of Shannon; Todd Grayston, former friend of Keith and fellow real estate agent; and Tammy Chouinard, real estate agent.

Shannon testified about Keith’s conduct prior to 2009, with Hilderman stating that both she and Simmons would recount events that made them fear for their safety. Defence lawyer Fred Kaatz said, if need be, the relevance of such evidence could be argued at the end of the case.

Chouinard’s evidence was presented in a voir dire – a trial within a trial – and its admissibility will also be argued later in the proceedings.

Shannon testified that she and Keith were married in July of 1992 and were legally separated on Aug. 1, 2008, when he moved out of the house and into a house he had purchased without her knowledge.

She said her relationship with Simmons started seriously in the fall of 2009. Shannon said she was a licensed property manager for 20 years. She said Simmons is a stucco and stonemason and she met him when he worked on their house.

Shannon testified that Keith was an alcoholic, so the marriage was “sometimes good and sometimes bad.” She recounted instances where she said his behaviour terrified her.

She also testified that on Sept. 4, 2009, when she was attending the Armstrong fair with Keith and the children in order to provide the children with some normalcy, Keith had secretly arranged for items of Simmons’, such as a quad and lawn-mowers he was storing at her home in Salmon Arm, to be towed from the premises.

Shannon said she received a phone call in December 2010 from Todd Grayston, a realtor who had been a close friend of Keith’s, in connection with a real estate issue. During the conversation, he said he was no longer working for Keith’s realty company. She testified that Grayston told her “that Keith had asked him to get rid of Steven so it would not come back on him.”

When Grayston took the stand, he testified that he met Keith in 1991, began working in April 2004 as sales manager at Century 21 and worked for him until Nov. 18, 2010, when Keith fired him. He said, overall, they had had a really good relationship. Leading up to Nov. 18, however, he said they began having difficulties involving Keith’s personal life and his professional conduct.

One of the things that led to the deterioration of their relationship, he said, was when Keith called him into his office in May, closed the door and spoke to him about “Stucco Steve,” as Keith called Simmons.

“Mr. Chancellor said he wanted me to make him disappear, he said, ‘I want him gone, I want you to hurt him, I want you to scare him, I want him to leave town,’” Grayston testified.

Asked in court if he would have the means to do such a thing, Grayston said no, and speculated that Keith had asked him because he was his friend at that time.

Defence lawyer Kaatz suggested that the meeting never happened, but Grayston countered: “You weren’t there, I was.”

Grayston testified he didn’t contact police right away because he was hoping that Keith wasn’t serious. Grayston said he was later contacted by the police to make a statement regarding Keith’s request, but he declined out of fear for his family and of getting on the wrong side of Keith.  He testified that after the conversation with Shannon, when she told him that Keith had been stalking her – which he said he’d witnessed once – and had been harassing her, he had second thoughts.

After talking to his brother-in-law, who is a police officer in the Lower Mainland, he decided “to do the right thing” and make a statement.

Kaatz is expected to begin his defence on Tuesday, Dec. 11 when the trial resumes.

 

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