THREE-RIVERS — Jonathan Bettez was acquitted Friday morning of all the charges that were brought against him in respect of child pornography.
The judge Jacques Lacoursière has in fact concluded that the evidence collected against him by the police during searches and search warrants had been obtained in an improper manner, even going so far as to speak of a “fishing expedition”. According to him, this is a case where the violation of fundamental rights is serious. “It is not a case where the police officers were faced with the uncertain state of the law or in grey areas, but there is an obvious error,” he said.
He was not embarrassed, moreover, to blame the police. “The court can understand the difficulties the police face in the course of certain criminal investigations. However, the consideration of which has the administration of justice is threatened if we endorse a police conduct that does not comply with the provisions of the act and the decisions of the courts”, he adds.
Both present at the palace of justice, Karine Fortier and Melissa Provencher, the mother and sister of Cédrika Provencher, attended the acquittal of Jonathan Bettez. Visibly upset, they have refused to speak to the media.
Photo François Gervais
In the course of their investigation into the disappearance and murder of Cédrika Provencher, police had in their sights Jonathan Bettez as a suspect. However, in December 2015, they have launched a parallel investigation aimed to verify if he had committed offences of child pornography. Therefore, and especially following the discovery of the bones of the little girl in December 2015, a request has been made to Facebook to get the list of IP addresses being used by Bettez to access his / her account, and then check whether they had been used in the downloading of child pornography.
The information that have then been obtained without judicial authorization allowed the police to have the general orders of communication, judicial authorizations related to the death of Cédrika Provencher and general warrants to examine the cell phone of Jonathan Bettez, his computers in his home, the residence of his parents, and the trade Emballages Bettez.
Unlike his client, Marc-Antoine Carette has agreed to speak to the media.
Photo François Gervais
However, the lawyer Bettez, Me Marc-Antoine Carette, complains to police of having used survey methods to be abusive and to have conducted illegal searches without reasonable grounds. It has, therefore, filed a motion for exclusion of evidence intended to overturn these mandates and thus exclude the evidence gathered. The judge came to the same conclusion: “When the officers made their request in Facebook December 13, 2015, they had no reasonable cause to believe that Bettez had committed the offence of child pornography.” He adds: “The defense has reason to claim that the approach of the police was based on vague assumptions, or simple intuition. The idea germinated during a meeting between the investigators and their superiors. The reasoning adopted was the following: if the applicant (Bettez) is the author of the abduction and murder of a young girl, nine years old, he is probably the type of individual likely to engage in computing practices in the area of child pornography,” writes Jacques Lacoursière in his decision.
For him, the request to Facebook is neither more nor less than a “fishing expedition based on a hunch or a theory, highly speculative”. This is why the search and seizure of information from Facebook without judicial authorization, are considered abusive and therefore invalid.
The same goes for the general warrants obtained on August 26, 2016, which have contributed according to the judge to continue the fishing expedition that began in December 2015. He says: “The month of December 2015 until August 2016, and despite the use of more than forty judicial authorization, the police have gathered no evidence to believe that the accused has committed the offence of child pornography.”
It accuses the police produced affidavits that gave rise to the judicial authorization to have failed to fulfil its obligations. The court is of the opinion that the errors and inaccuracies contained in these documents have helped to aggravate the violation of the fundamental rights of Jonathan Bettez. Include information that paints the portrait of the investigation into the murder of Cédrika Provencher. “It is clear that they had no relevance in relation to the present case and, importantly, they do not bring strictly nothing as to the reasonable grounds to believe that the child pornography was in the cell phone and computers covered by the general warrants,” adds the judge.
In his analysis, he concludes that all the evidence collected in violation of the canadian Charter of rights and freedoms must be excluded because of the seriousness of the conduct that violates State and the impact of the violation on the rights of the accused, including the cell phone and computers were searched thoroughly for six years. “The achievement with regard to the rights to respect for private life is important,” wrote the judge.
By the same token, the Crown attorney, Me Jean-Marc Poirier, there was no other choice, after a suspension, declare that it does not have evidence to offer, hence the verdict of acquittal pronounced by the justice Lacoursière.
This decision has greatly upset Karine Fortier and Melissa Provencher, the mother and the sister of Cédrika Provencher, both of which are present in the courtroom Friday. In their face, the anger and the sadness were evident.
The prosecutor for criminal and penal prosecutions, Jean-Marc Poirier.
Photo François Gervais
On his side, Me Poirier was certainly disappointed. “The justice Lacoursière has taken the time to make a decision-rounded and motivated that we will take the care to analyze it to see if there are possible follow-ups,” he said, referring to the possibility of going to appeal. Accompanied by his client, who remained stoic, Me Marc-Antoine Carette has for his part said he was very satisfied with the decision of the judge. “He has recognized that the rights of Mr. Bettez had been violated several times in the course of the police investigation. Fortunately, he pronounced his acquittal,”-he concluded.
Remember in closing that no charges have been brought against Jonathan Bettez in connection with the death of Cédrika Provencher. He had been accused of several crimes related to child pornography. However, the computer material seized did not contain a directly to this type of files, but rather traces.
THE COURSE OF EVENTS
JULY 31, 2007
Cédrika Provencher, 9 years old, disappears. She is last seen at the corner of a street, near her home in Trois-Rivières. It does not leave behind his bike.
Jonathan Bettez appears on the radar screen of the police. It is at the time the owner of one of the 258 Acura TSX 2004 red color in Quebec. The SQ is interested in the owners of this type of vehicle, of which a description has been given by a witness. Bettez has no alibi.
Less than two months after the disappearance, the police starts to do the spinning on Bettez. Various operations of physical surveillance will be conducted over the next ten years.
JUNE 2, 2009
The SQ launched an extensive undercover operation in the life of Jonathan Bettez. It draws in a scenario fabricated through a fake contest that won him a golfing trip to Mont-Tremblant. The other winners are police officers. The undercover operation lasted 13 months and will consist of 25 scenarios.
Bones belonging to Cédrika are found in a wooded area of Trois-Rivières. The police prepare a discount to the public and media of the bones family. It is a strategy of provocation in order to talk to the suspect, still being monitored.
The police obtained the right to install cameras in the homes of relatives and members of the family of the suspect, in addition to listen to their conversations. The goal: to capture comments that is incriminating.
29 AUGUST 2016
Jonathan Bettez is arrested at Emballages Bettez.
AUGUST 30, 2016
Jonathan Bettez is conducted at the courthouse of Trois-Rivières for his appearance in connection with crimes of child pornography who allegedly committed between 2009 and 2013. For the occasion, the courtroom is full. It will be released with conditions. Upon his release, a crowd of about fifty people are waiting for the insult. It will have to be escorted by the police.
DECEMBER 8, 2017
Jonathan Bettez presents for the second time at the palace of justice. It then obtains the right not to attend his preliminary inquiry scheduled to be held from December 11 to 15, due to his health problems, or of renal failure.
DECEMBER 11, 2017
The beginning of his preliminary investigation. It is stamped with a publication ban.
DECEMBER 13, 2017
It is cited to stand trial on all charges against him in connection with crimes of child pornography who allegedly committed between November 2009 and August 2016
In the framework of the management of proceedings, counsel for Bettez, Me Marc-Antoine Carette, presented a motion for exclusion of evidence
OCTOBER 12, 2018
The judge Jacques Lacoursière dismisses the evidence gathered by the police and pays Jonathan Bettez charges of child pornography leveled against him.