Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Set free over police misconduct, man back in custody

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An accused high-risk sex offender who walked free earlier this year because of police misconduct is now back in custody following a run-in with officers.

Justice sources told the Free Press investigators have been keeping a close eye on Marcus Baird since last February's bombshell decision in court suddenly returned him to the streets.

It all came to a head last weekend when Baird, 28, allegedly became combative with police. He was arrested and charged with three counts of uttering threats and assaulting a police officer. Baird has been detained in custody without bail.

Justice officials were considering a dangerous-offender application for Baird if convicted of his last set of charges, but those plans vanished when a Manitoba judge ripped police for their handling of his investigation.

Baird was accused of breaking into two residences and sexually assaulting two women, both strangers, on April 4 and 5, 2011. Police and the Crown also suspected him of voyeurism for recording the incidents on camera.

But all of the key evidence against Baird was tossed out of court after the lead officer involved in the case was found to have deliberately committed numerous charter breaches.

Provincial court Judge Robert Heinrichs ruled there was "reckless disregard for the truth" in a sworn affidavit used to obtain a search warrant. Heinrichs cited numerous "inaccuracies, misstatements, embellishments and exaggerations."

Specifically, the judge ruled police deliberately withheld certain information, while exaggerating other details, in order to make their case look much stronger than it really was.

The Crown's office reviewed the judge's decision but ultimately decided not to pursue criminal charges such as perjury or obstruction of justice against the lead police officer. They also elected not to file an appeal of Heinrichs' decision.

Baird has a lengthy history with police and was the subject of regular surveillance at the time of the alleged attacks, court was told.

He was identified as a suspect but not arrested for these incidents until July 2011.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 9, 2014 A11

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