In custody disputes, where evidence is hard to obtain and matters are often reduced to “he-said/she-said”, litigants often turn to alternative means to gain information about their ex-spouse. Whether it’s social media “stalking” or snooping through an ex’s emails, there seems to be no limit to what individuals will do to dig up dirt on their ex. When a litigant has the resources, these efforts can be outsourced to professionals, such as private investigators, who are hired to conduct surveillance and assist in collecting negative evidence about their subject that can be used against them in court.
Following his separation in 2012, Kenneth Carter took surveillance to a new extreme, resulting in criminal charges for many of the individuals involved. The Crown alleged that Mr. Carter hired a private security company owned by a retired police officer, Stephen Walton to conduct surveillance on his former girlfriend, Ms. Taylor, to gain evidence in their contentious custody dispute. Mr. Walton, in turn, hired a number of individuals including Calgary Police Service members to perform surveillance activities.
During the course of two trials, one for Mr. Carter and Mr. Walton, and another for three men who had all at one time been Calgary Police Service members, the Court heard evidence that Ms. Taylor had a GPS tracker placed on her car, that she was repeatedly followed, that attempts were made to place covert listening devices in her car and with her nanny, and that attempts were made to gain access to her condominium. Even more sinister, the Court heard evidence that some of these individuals conducted surveillance on Ms. Taylor while on duty as police officers, and conducted searches on the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) for Ms. Taylor, her licence plate and various other acquaintances. Ms. Taylor testified that collectively, these actions caused her to fear for her safety, feel violated and to mistrust the police.
Ultimately, both Mr. Carter and Mr. Walton were convicted of criminal harassment, amongst other offences. The former CPS members were convicted of various offences, including breach of trust, criminal harassment and unauthorized use of a computer. Apparently, according to testimony heard at Mr. Carter and Mr. Walton’s trial, Mr. Carter now has custody of the child.