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This article was published 10/5/2017 (1631 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Winnipeg firefighter has been found guilty of stealing from a deceased elderly woman while he was on the job.
Darren Fedyck was convicted Wednesday of theft under $5,000 after his co-workers accused him of taking hundreds of dollars in cash and two pieces of jewelry from the woman's apartment during a well-being check nearly two years ago.
Provincial court Judge Kael McKenzie said he believed all of the witnesses who testified at the three-day trial last month, including Fedyck's fire captain and co-workers, who all took the stand saying they believed Fedyck may have stolen the woman's belongings although none of them saw him take the items.
On Oct. 2, 2015, Fedyck and his co-workers from Fire Station 16 were called to check on the well-being of a 76-year-old woman.
They found her dead inside her one-bedroom suite, and as they left the apartment, they realized they needed to retrieve her health card number. Court was told Fedyck went back in to get it, but when he didn’t return after about five minutes, the captain sent others in to check on him.
One of them testified he went back inside to see Fedyck holding the ID card in one hand and a purse or wallet in the other.
The other firefighters later found his jacket balled up inside the truck and searched it, finding $800 to $1,000 in cash and two women's necklaces. Although the 76-year-old woman dealt exclusively in cash, her wallet contained no bills when it was returned to her family.
The fire crew photographed the cash and necklaces without telling Fedyck they had done so. Instead, they confronted him, telling him they saw the items after they fell out of his jacket.
When confronted by his co-workers, Fedyck said the jewelry and the cash belonged to him and that he planned to sell one necklace. Because they hadn't actually seen him steal, the fire crew decided not to report the allegations. They didn't intend to go to police, court heard, until one of Fedyck's superiors decided to call the authorities about six weeks later.
"The only rational conclusion based on the totality of the evidence is that Mr. Fedyck is guilty as charged," said McKenzie, who dismissed the defence's motion alleging an illegal search of Fedyck's belongings.
The judge said it's unusual for firefighters to carry large amounts of cash with them to calls.
"It defies logic to believe Mr. Fedyck would bring jewelry he intended to sell into the fire hall at all or to leave it in an unattended, unlocked fire vehicle," the judge said. "This crew works together, and they depend on their routine for their safety and to maintain the structure of the organization. These particular men had been working together for some time and were aware when someone, as Mr. Fedyck was, acts out of the norm."
A date has not yet been set for Fedyck's sentencing.
Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.