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This article was published 15/3/2010 (3673 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG police thought they had the proverbial "smoking gun" to bring down a local gang associate. But a judge saw otherwise Monday, throwing out what police believed was a rock-solid case and setting the accused free.
Jean Paul Beaumont was found not guilty of numerous charges including possession of a restricted firearm, possession of ammunition and careless storage. Police have previously identified Beaumont, 36, as a member of the Zig Zag Crew, the "puppet club" of the Hells Angels in Manitoba.
Justice sources say the judge's decision, which will likely be appealed, illustrates how difficult it can be to prosecute organized-crime cases in Winnipeg.
Provincial court Judge Catherine Carlson said there was plenty of "circumstantial evidence" against Beaumont, but not enough to convince her "beyond a reasonable doubt" that he was guilty.
Police were conducting surveillance on a College Avenue home last June when they saw Beaumont get out of cab carrying a large bag they believed was concealing a firearm. Investigators got a magistrate to endorse a search warrant, which was executed later that night.
Police found the bag Beaumont was carrying in an upstairs bedroom, but it was empty. A search of the room revealed someone had recently accessed the attic, where a loaded rifle was found hidden. DNA tests on seven bullets revealed Beaumont had come in contact with at least some of them.
Defence lawyer Chris McCoy took aim at the Crown's case, saying his client must be acquitted because police didn't actually see him physically handle the gun or stash the weapon in the attic. He called a witness, another known gang associate, who claimed he was the one who actually purchased the gun and hid it inside the home, which belonged to his mother.
Carlson rejected the man's story Monday, calling it "incredible." She noted he initially told police he'd never seen the weapon before and was now trying to offer an alibi to protect Beaumont. The two men admitted to speaking to each other in recent months, but there was no evidence they had conspired together to evade justice.
The judge said there were too many gaps in the evidence to link Beaumont to the rifle, even with his DNA on some of the bullets.
"It's not enough. He could have sneezed or coughed on them. We just don't know," Carlson said. "There is no evidence he actually held or touched them."
Carlson noted there were several other people in the home at the time who never gave statements or testified about what they might have seen. There were no fingerprints found on the gun or the bullets, court was told.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.