Man who killed Ottawa police officer has conviction appeal dismissed

·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 Ontario Court of Appeal has denied Ottawa cop killer Kevin Gregson's appeal of his first-degree murder conviction.

In a decision released Thursday, a three-member panel of judges dismissed the appeal of the one-time RCMP officer who, in December 2009, fatally stabbed Ottawa police Const. Eric Czapnik.

Gregson appealed his conviction on the grounds 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 in May.

'Pathological 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.

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.

'Unethical' but no effect on verdict: Appeal court

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.

The appeal court found several of Fleming's actions to be "misguided and wrong" and "unethical," but found they were in no way based on any real conflict of interest that meant a divided loyalty to Gregson.

"Mr. Fleming cannot be said to have breached his duty of loyalty to his client according to the applicable law," the appeal court found.

"This may have been a case of ineffective assistance of counsel. However, an appeal based on ineffective assistance could not have succeeded because Mr. Fleming's actions cannot be said to have had any effect on the verdict."

1st-degree murder trial

Gregson was convicted of first-degree murder in Czapnik's stabbing death in March 2012. At trial, Gregson admitted to killing Czapnik, 51.

Czapnik was writing reports while sitting in his patrol car outside the emergency room at The Ottawa Hospital's Civic campus on Dec. 29, 2009. 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 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.

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