Officer testifies finding body in brush at second-degree murder trial

Officer testifies finding body in brush at second-degree murder trial

HALIFAX — Family members of Catherine Campbell wept Monday as a jury was shown video of a body found in brush in an area near Halifax’s Macdonald Bridge, days after Christopher Garnier allegedly punched and strangled the off-duty police officer.

Halifax Regional Police Const. Adam Cole said he was searching Barrington Street as part of the investigation and spotted a box in a steep embankment off Valour Way early on Sept. 16, 2015.

“The hairs on the back of my neck started to stand,” Cole told the Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury at Garnier’s second-degree murder trial.

Cole said he then crawled down the embankment through thick brush.

“When I lifted (the box), I could see hair… I could see a person,” said Cole, adding that the body — which was never identified by Cole as Campbell — was face down.

Cole said earlier that evening, police had located a compost bin nearby off a ramp that leads from North Street to Barrington Street.

The Crown has alleged Garnier used a green compost bin to dump Campbell’s body in brush in the area of the Macdonald Bridge.

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

Halifax Regional Police Det. Const. Randy Wood said after the body was discovered, video was shot of the scene.

Video of the back of the body was shown to the jury, as members of Campbell’s family watched on from the gallery and wept.

“I had cleared brush away from Ms. Campbell,” said Wood, adding that he did not touch the body.

The body was not officially confirmed to be that of Campbell’s before the jury.

Wood also testified that earlier that day, he had searched a dumpster near the McCully Street apartment and found a garbage bag that contained a gym membership tag and keys.

Earlier Monday, two witnesses told the jury they saw a man rolling a compost bin in Halifax’s north end on the same morning the Crown alleges Garnier killed Campbell, a Truro police officer.

Andrew Golding said he was walking to work at an automotive dealer shortly before 5 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2015, when he passed by a man pulling a compost bin on North Street.

Golding said the man appeared agitated as he passed by, and that the compost bin appeared to be “carrying weight.”

“He passed by me in very close range with the bin — close enough that I had to step out of the way,” said Golding. “(He had) a frown, a grimace on his face … as if he was under physical or mental duress.”