‘I never wanted to hurt anybody,’ accused killer says in death of off-duty cop

HALIFAX — A sobbing Christopher Garnier insisted he “never wanted to hurt anybody” during a police interrogation hours after he was arrested in the killing of an off-duty police officer.

Garnier sat for a taped police interview on Sept. 16, 2015, after his arrest in the death of Const. Catherine Campbell, who he had met in a Halifax bar.

“I didn’t want to sleep with her. I love (my girlfriend) so much. Now she’s never going to want to see me again,” he said on the video, shown Monday at Garnier’s murder trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

The video shows Garnier, dressed in a T-shirt and pants, walking into an interview room with grey walls, two computer chairs, a computer, and a table.

He can be seen sobbing and sniffling as RCMP Cpl. Jody Allison speaks to him in a comforting tone, with the officer telling Garnier, “I don’t think it was your intention for it to end up like it did.”

“You’re not a monster. You made a mistake,” Allison told Garnier during the interview. “There’s nothing you can do to reverse this.”

At one point, Garnier said to Allison through tears: “I never wanted to hurt anybody.”

Garnier told Allison that he was a hard worker.

“I worked so hard to try and make my parents proud and to provide for (my girlfriend) so I can start a family,” said Garnier.

The jury was shown the first roughly 2.5 hours of the 9.5-hour-long video interview on Monday. The trial continues Tuesday.

The Crown alleges Garnier punched and strangled Campbell inside a McCully Street apartment and dumped her body on a steep embankment near Halifax’s Macdonald Bridge.

Evidence presented at the trial has indicated Campbell was seen kissing and dancing with Garnier at the Halifax Alehouse before leaving with him in the early hours of Sept. 11, 2015.

Last week, the defence put forth a hypothetical scenario suggesting Campbell died during a consensual sexual encounter after encouraging Garnier to choke her.

Garnier, 30, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body.

During the taped interrogation, Allison told Garnier that his background as a firefighter and in occupational health and safety shows that he’s a “good guy.”

“The safety-minded people? They are the ones that have a good heart,” Allison told Garnier, who was sitting with his hands on his lap, one on top of the other.

He showed Garnier photos of Campbell, including one of the Truro, N.S., police officer in her volunteer firefighter uniform, and said: “Same thing as you — good people.”

“Look at this poor girl,” Allison said. “Her family deserves to know what happened … good or bad.”

After about an hour, Allison tells Garnier: “There’s no doubt in my mind that you’re responsible for her death.”

“I know you did it,” said the officer, his tone less compassionate now than before. “Right now, you have a choice.”

Allison asked him repeatedly throughout the interview, in many different ways: “How did it get to that point?”

“How did it go from something where you just thought you were going to hook up, to that?” he said.

Garnier told Allison numerous times during the first few hours of the interview: “I’m not supposed to say anything.”

Garnier was also shown a video of his girlfriend — who Allison said police had spoken to following Garnier’s arrest — crying and appearing to tell someone Garnier had been arrested and that she needed support.

The video of his girlfriend was stopped, but Garnier asked Allison to play more.

“I just wanted to hear her voice,” said Garnier.

Allison put his hand on Garnier’s shoulder, and he broke down, stuffing his face into his hands and crying loudly.

A member of Garnier’s family could be seen crying as the video was played for the 14-member jury.

Also on Monday, the jury was shown the clothing Campbell was wearing when her body was found in thick brush near the bridge.

Halifax Regional Police Sgt. Andre Habib wore purple latex gloves as he pulled items from bags and held them up for the 14-member jury.

He showed the court a hair clip, a strapless dress and a strapless bra — all items the 36-year-old woman was wearing when her body was found in the early hours of Sept. 16, 2015.

Habib also said that toiletries, clothes and Garnier’s passport were found inside a backpack seized from the Ford Edge he was driving when he was arrested.

The trial has heard the mattress from the pullout couch in the McCully Street apartment was missing. Habib testified Monday that police never found the mattress.

Follow (at)AlyThomson on Twitter.

Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press

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