Crown seeks parole eligibility of 16 years for man who killed off-duty cop

HALIFAX — A Halifax man who killed an off-duty police officer and used a green bin to dispose of her body should have to serve 16 years before he can apply for parole, a Crown lawyer said Monday.

Christopher Garnier, 30, faces an automatic sentence of life in prison after being convicted in December of second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body in the 2015 death of 36-year-old Catherine Campbell.

A hearing to determine when Garnier will be able to apply for parole was held Monday, but was adjourned until Aug. 27 and 28 in part because the defence wants an expert witness to testify.

“I understand the Campbells would be disappointed about that (the delay), but we will return and we will finish the matter in August. That’s our hope,” said Crown lawyer Christine Driscoll outside of court.

Driscoll told reporters the Crown believes Garnier should serve 16 years before he’s able to apply for parole.

Garnier’s lawyer, Joel Pink, declined to comment as he left the court, but Driscoll said it was her understanding the defence is seeking a period of 10 years before he can apply for parole.

Parole ineligibility for second-degree murder must be set between 10 and 25 years. The jury found that Garnier strangled Campbell, a Truro police officer, and used a compost bin to dump her body near a harbour bridge on Sept. 11, 2015, after the pair met at a Halifax bar.

Garnier, who has grown a bushy beard since his trial, sat quietly during the proceedings Monday. Wearing a blue collared shirt, a dark suit and glasses, Garnier did not speak during the hearing, but nodded his head in agreement as Arnold adjourned the matter.

The court heard from Garnier’s girlfriend, Brittany Francis, who the Crown said has submitted a character reference letter as part of Garnier’s hearing.

Driscoll said after reviewing Francis’s letter, prosecutors felt they needed to have text messages between Garnier and Francis submitted as evidence at the hearing because her letter did not provide “balanced information” about their relationship.

“Our goal as Crown attorneys is to address risk issues and matters that might need to be dealt with so that Mr. Garnier has a successful integration into society, perhaps, when the parole board deems that appropriate,” said Driscoll.

After Justice Joshua Arnold ruled the text messages were admissible, Pink called Francis — who did not testify at the trial — to the stand.

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