Judge Reginald Harris said late Wednesday afternoon that he would announce the verdict in ex-Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum’s public mischief trial sometime during the week of Nov. 21.
Harris originally said he could deliver the judgment in a week’s time after McCallum’s defence team and the special prosecutor finished closing arguments in the Surrey Provincial Court trial.
He agreed to the delay due to lawyers’ schedules and estimated he would need a two-hour session to recite his reasons.
McCallum, who lost the mayoralty to Brenda Locke in the Oct. 15 civic election, pleaded not guilty when the trial began Oct. 31. He did not testify.
Special prosecutor Richard Fowler said Wednesday that if McCallum’s foot had been run over in a Save-On-Foods parking lot last year, then he exploited an obvious accident to seek revenge against a Keep the RCMP in Surrey [KTRIS] protester.
“This is not a trial about whether or not Mr. McCallum's foot was run over,” Fowler told Harris. “This is a trial about whether or not Mr. McCallum, with the intent to mislead, made false statements to the police, with the intention of causing Ms. [Debi] Johnstone to be suspected of having committed offences she had not committed.”
McCallum originally accused Johnstone of driving over his foot and speeding away in her Mustang convertible on Sept. 4, 2021. He was instead charged with public mischief. There were no eyewitnesses to the incident and video evidence was inconclusive, because a shrub obscured McCallum’s lower leg and Johnstone’s rear wheel.
Fowler told Harris that he had proven the charges beyond reasonable doubt, because evidence disproved McCallum’s allegations that Johnstone drove towards him, pinned him to his vehicle, ran over his foot and sped away.
McCallum called 9-1-1 more than two hours after the incident, after going grocery shopping and speaking to KTRIS leader Ivan Scott at a petition kiosk outside the store. He spent two hours at the Peace Arch Hospital emergency ward, where a doctor found no fracture or visible swelling, only a contusion on the top of his left foot. McCallum then attended a 45-minute interview with an RCMP officer.
“Mr. McCallum's statement, or statements were not spontaneous utterances at the scene of an accident, the side of the road, they were not simply reckless hyperbole,” Fowler said. “They weren’t statements that were made in the heat of the moment, with no time to quietly reflect upon what had just happened, or what the statement maker had just experienced.”
Instead, McCallum told an RCMP officer in a video recorded interview 11 times that Johnstone had pinned him to his vehicle.
“He was pinned by no one and pinned by nothing,” Fowler said.
Video evidence played in court showed that McCallum originally responded to Johnstone by walking 15 feet from his car to where Johnstone had stopped, swore at him and urged him to resign. Fowler said McCallum chose to stand beside Johnstone’s vehicle during their one-minute verbal exchange before she drove away slowly and carefully.
“He walked to the car and nothing stopped him from walking away,” Fowler said.
Earlier Wednesday, one of McCallum’s four lawyers, Eric Gottardi, closed the defence case by saying that McCallum neither wasted police resources nor sought revenge against Johnstone.
He said McCallum should be acquitted because he never veered from the main thrust of his complaint that Johnstone singled him out, yelled profanities at him, drove over his foot and got away. He said McCallum endured a frightening experience. If McCallum exaggerated any details, Gottardi argued that is irrelevant under case law.
“He's not literally trying to communicate the idea that she burned rubber and left marks on the ground and nor is he trying to communicate the idea that he was literally and physically mechanically pinned between two vehicles,” Gottardi said.
“The core complaint is she ran over his foot and drove away.”