'Safety concerns' for baby girl prompted former Calgary cop to follow child's mother for a year

A former Calgary police officer accused of harassing a mother who was in the middle of a bitter breakup and custody dispute told jurors he was simply trying to keep a baby safe.

Steve Walton, 61, testified in his own defence Monday after the Crown closed its case.

Prosecutors Katherine Love and Ryan Persad have called dozens of witnesses and presented 80 exhibits to jurors over the last several weeks since the trial began. 

Walton is a retired CPS officer while his wife, Heather, used to be a civilian member of the service. The couple ran a private company that was hired by Ken Carter during a bitter custody dispute with Carter's ex Akele Taylor beginning in 2012. 

Carter — who is said to be worth about $80 million — is accused of paying more than $800,000 to the Waltons to discredit and harass Taylor, who was also the mother of his daughter.

But Steve Walton told jurors he "had a fear that if things weren't monitored properly [the child] may be injured," he told his defence lawyer Alain Hepner.

After the the couple broke up in 2012, Carter hired Walton's risk management and protection firm because he had "safety concerns for his daughter," the accused told his lawyer.

Meghan Grant/CBC

Walton testified that he was involved in covert surveillance of Taylor and also supervised visitations between his client's daughter and her mother.  The former CPS drug expert said in August 2012 he witnessed Taylor attempting to break into Carter's home with a rake.

Walton described his services as "risk management" and denied billing himself as a private investigator which he's previously been described as in court.

At one point, Walton said Taylor breached a court order to return her daughter to Carter. Walton said he followed the mother to a southwest Boston Pizza and called 911. After police arrived, Walton said he was able to facilitate the return of the baby to Carter. 

'Keep it up until she breaks'

Text messages and emails recovered by police from the seized phones and computers of the accused were released by Justice Glen Poelman on Monday.

In one exchange, Carter asks Steve Walton to send a threatening email to Taylor.

"She will be monitored/surveilled/investigated for at least long as she is in Calgary," wrote Carter. 

"We will follow her around the world."

In another exchange, this time with Heather Walton, Carter tells her to "keep it up until she breaks."

"That c--t deserves everything she gets. All gloves are off," Carter said to Heather Walton in a text message in April 2013.

Heather Walton responded: "The noose must feel uncomfortably tight."

Jurors have heard evidence the accused arranged for a GPS unit to be placed on Taylor's car and that she was followed and watched for months. 

Taylor was also falsely reported to police for breaking into her own storage locker.

'500 cops across Canada I can phone up'

Walton told jurors Carter now has custody of his daughter. 

Aside from the harassment charge, the Waltons each face charges of bribing an officer, accused of paying police officers to access private information from CPS databases. 

When asked if he ever asked officers to get information for him from internal systems, Walton said he had but he never paid for it.

"I don't have to, I know 500 cops across Canada I can phone up any time," said Walton in his testimony.

Kelsey Sitar and Gavin Wolch have not yet indicated to jurors whether they plan to call their clients, Heather Walton or Ken Carter to testify.

Final arguments are expected to take place Friday with the judge's final instructions to jurors to take place Monday morning at which point deliberations would begin.