Stepdad who told undercover police he killed girl after video game interruption was lying, says defence

·4 min read

The confession of a Calgary man who told undercover police he'd killed his stepdaughter after she interrupted his video game should not be believed, according to the defence as Justin Bennett's murder trial came to a close Tuesday.

Defence lawyer Allan Fay and prosecutor Sue Kendall made their closing submissions in Bennett's second-degree murder trial.

Much of the arguments focused on the accused's confession to undercover police following a Mr. Big operation — a type of investigation where officers befriend a suspect, bringing him into their fake organization with the goal of eliciting a confession.

Bennett is accused of fatally beating his stepdaughter Ivy Wick, 3, in October 2017.

Ivy, the daughter of Bennett's then-girlfriend, Helen Wordsworth, was injured on Sept. 27, 2017, and died in hospital of head and brain injuries eight days later.

Mr. Big operation 'deeply flawed,' says defence

In the year following Ivy's death, police ran the undercover operation that ended with Bennett's arrest.

The goal of such an operation is to convince the suspect that police are closing in on an arrest and that if he provides a detailed confession, the head of the group — Mr. Big — will be able to help him cover up the evidence and/or get him out of the jurisdiction.

"This Mr. Big operation was deeply flawed, and because of those flaws, the confession that it produced is unreliable and should not convince this court beyond a reasonable doubt of Mr. Bennett's guilt," said Fay.

The defence lawyer argued there was no "hold-back information," evidence which only the killer would know. The defence lawyer also suggested that during his client's time with the fictitious organization, Bennett had a history of lying and "telling tall tales" to his new friends, which would make a false confession more likely.

Staying in the group "was everything Justin Bennett wanted," said Fay. "He would do anything to continue in this organization."

Bennett's story 'unworthy of belief,' says Crown

In her closing arguments, Kendall said the medical evidence is consistent with what Bennett told undercover police.

The prosecutor said parts of Bennett's testimony were "unworthy of belief" and that his evidence was "rife with inconsistencies."

During the confession, Bennett was emotional and said the child's death was weighing on him.

"Either Mr. Bennett is an Academy Award winner or when he talks with Mr. Big, he's telling the truth," said Kendall.

Officers had "recruited" Bennett, who was nearly homeless at the time, to join their fictitious, quasi-criminal organization. They gave him a job, friendship, paid him money and showed him a lifestyle he fell in love with that included going to fancy restaurants.

Bennett says he had 'hate towards' Ivy

Bennett testified he "loved" being part of the group.

When he feared police were closing in on him as a suspect in Ivy's killing, Bennett was urged by the head of the group, "Mr. Big," to provide a detailed account of what happened so that the organization, which had access to a corrupt medical examiner, could help manipulate the evidence and keep him out of trouble.

Bennett, who had a video game addiction at the time of Ivy's death, graphically described his rage against the child, who had interrupted his play.

Around 11 a.m. the day she was injured, Ivy was put in a timeout while having a tantrum. The child's mother was having a shower, he told Mr. Big.

Bennett told the officer he checked to make sure Wordsworth was still in the shower before he "smashed" Ivy in the head.

He said he then "snapped" and threw Ivy against a wall. As the three-year-old ran to her bedroom, Bennett tripped her.

"I have like a kind of a hate towards her," he told the undercover officer.

When Bennett testified in his own defence earlier in the trial, he said he'd confessed to the killing because he "didn't want to lose" the attractive lifestyle his new friends had introduced him to.

A year after Ivy's death and following his confession to the undercover police officers, Bennett was arrested and charged with murder.

A date for Court of Queen's Bench Justice Blair Nixon's decision will be set on Friday.