A Calgary businessman and retired police officer who were convicted of harassing a woman in an effort to keep her from gaining custody of her daughter have been found not guilty of perjury.
There were handshakes and hugs between the men — Ken Carter, 71, and Steve Walton, 65 — and their lawyers, Brian Greenspan and Alain Hepner, following the acquittals Friday, six years after the men were charged.
The pair had been accused of lying under oath about their business relationship during Carter's family court trial in 2014.
In his nearly three-hour decision, Court of Queen's Bench Justice David Labrenz said he had "reasonable doubt" as to whether Carter and Walton had lied, although he said in some instances it was "likely" they had intentionally misled the court.
Carter and Akele Taylor were in the middle of a breakup and bitter custody fight over their young daughter in 2012 and 2013.
Around that time, Carter hired Walton, a retired Calgary Police Service officer who, along with his wife, ran an unlicensed private investigation firm.
The Waltons' employees included current and former CPS officers.
Over the course of about 18 months, Carter paid nearly $1,000,000 to the Waltons.
During that time, Taylor was harassed and followed.
The officers not only illegally searched internal CPS databases for information on Taylor, they also placed a GPS tracking device on her car and offered money to her associates for dirt on her.
Six people, including the Waltons and Carter, were charged criminally in 2016. Two separate trials took place.
During the 2018 trial, Taylor's mother testified her daughter was so stressed out that she became suicidal.
In the end, all six were convicted of various crimes related to the harassment of Taylor and police corruption related to the so-called private investigation funded by Carter.
After Carter's 2018 criminal harassment conviction, he left for Russia, becoming ill in that country and spending seven months there until he was healthy enough to return, his lawyer said.
Carter wasn't sentenced until 2020, when a judge ordered him to spend three years in prison — but he has not yet served his time. Carter has been released on bail pending appeal.
Carter's conviction appeal was argued earlier this year, but a decision has not yet been handed down.
The sentence appeal will take place only if Carter's conviction appeal is unsuccessful.