Ex-Mountie who killed Ottawa police officer appealing murder conviction

·3 min read
Kevin Gregson, seen here after his arrest on Dec. 29, 2009, said he was after Eric Czapnik's gun when he attacked him. (Ottawa Police Service - image credit)
Kevin Gregson, seen here after his arrest on Dec. 29, 2009, said he was after Eric Czapnik's gun when he attacked him. (Ottawa Police Service - image credit)

The man who killed Ottawa police Const. Eric Czapnik in 2009 is appealing his first-degree murder conviction.

Kevin Gregson, a former Saskatchewan RCMP officer, killed Czapnik in the early morning hours of Dec. 29, 2009. It was a crime that scarred the city.

Gregson is appealing his conviction on the grounds that his legal aid lawyer breached his duty of loyalty to him, beginning with a bizarre lie that the lawyer was a former police officer.

That lawyer, Craig Fleming, "spun a tale" that would lead to him acting as a "babysitter" who "smoothed the way for the Crown to secure a conviction," appeal lawyer Michael Lacy argued Tuesday morning in front of a three-member appeal court panel.

'Pathalogical lie' won Gregson's trust: Appeal lawyer

In his affidavit to the appeal court, Gregson wrote that Fleming had told him he was a former RCMP officer who had been "forced out."

"Mr. Fleming told me that he had been a sergeant in charge of a drug squad in Vancouver back in the 1980s, and that in the process of serving a warrant on two people he had killed them," Gregson wrote.

The tale led Gregson to feel he "had a real bond" with the lawyer. It was all a lie. Fleming has never been a police officer with the RCMP, nor any other police force.

When he joined the Ottawa Police Service in 2007, Const. Eric Czapnik, a father of four, was the oldest recruit in the force's history.
When he joined the Ottawa Police Service in 2007, Const. Eric Czapnik, a father of four, was the oldest recruit in the force's history.()

Lacy called it a "pathological lie" that Fleming had been peddling since at least 2004.

The lie gained Gregson's trust, and once in that position, Fleming disclosed trial strategy to prosecutors and shared with them confidential and privileged communications he'd had with his client, Lacy alleged.

In one email to trial prosecutors, Fleming wrote he would "do a tour of the case law" and "raise no scintilla of a defence."

He fundamentally misunderstood his role in the case, Lacy said. He wasn't an amicus, or a lawyer assisting someone defending themselves: he was a lawyer paid to defend the interests of his client.

A question of ethics

Appeal prosecutor Alex Alvaro said as bizarre as some of Fleming's conduct was, most of it could be reasonably explained, and he "did not seek to throw his client under the bus."

Indeed, Alvaro argued, it was Gregson who was driving that bus, and who was consistently changing his instructions to the legal aid lawyer — a lawyer who was only on the case after Gregson threatened his previous lawyer.

There was no conflicting interest that was affecting Fleming's commitment to his client, and Gregson did not suffer a miscarriage of justice as a result, Alvaro said.

The question, he said, is one of professional ethics and not one for the appeal court.

Czapnik's casket is carried from his funeral service in Ottawa on Jan. 7, 2010.
Czapnik's casket is carried from his funeral service in Ottawa on Jan. 7, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

1st-degree murder trial

Gregson was convicted of first-degree murder in Czapnik's stabbing death in March 2012.

The former Mountie was also found guilty of robbery for a carjacking in a west Ottawa parking lot and was sentenced to five years, to be served concurrently.

At trial, Gregson admitted to killing Czapnik, 51.

Czapnik was writing reports while sitting in his patrol car outside The Ottawa Hospital's Civic campus emergency room. Gregson approached and attacked the officer with a knife.

In September 2012, Gregson was also convicted of sexually assaulting a then 10-year-old girl. Those crimes occurred just one week before he killed Czapnik.

Czapnik joined the Ottawa Police Service in April 2007. At the time, he was the oldest recruit in service history. The father of four was following in the footsteps of his own father, who had been a police officer for 30 years.

The appeal court has not yet set a date to deliver its decision.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting