Former N.S. Mountie found guilty of stealing, trafficking cocaine from evidence locker

A former RCMP staff sergeant has been found guilty of stealing cocaine from a police evidence locker and splitting the profits three ways between himself, a childhood friend and a drug dealer.

Craig Robert Burnett was in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Friday morning, flanked by family and supporters.

The former police officer was accused of stealing 10 kilograms of cocaine from an evidence locker at the former RCMP headquarters on Oxford Street back in 2011.

According to the province’s Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) at the time, an investigation began in September 2015 when RCMP contacted SiRT with allegations that a member had stolen cocaine and replaced the drugs with another substance. The drugs were scheduled to be destroyed and were no longer evidence in a court case.

At the time of the investigation, Burnett had been with the RCMP for 20 years. He was also the commanding officer of the National Port Enforcement Team — a role that involve protecting Canadian ports from drug smuggling.

It was alleged Burnett gave the cocaine to a childhood friend, who then passed the drugs to a drug dealer to sell. The profits were split three ways.

In an 85-page decision, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice James L. Chipman said from the evidence, he determined the retired staff sergeant stole cocaine from the evidence locker and received about $100,000 from the proceeds of crime.

He was found guilty of seven charges, including theft of cocaine, obstructing a police officer by counselling a witness to lie, and breach of trust.

Outside the courtroom, Burnett’s lawyer said he was “somewhat surprised” by the judge’s decision and that his client was “distressed” by the guilty verdict.

“Well, he’s distressed. Not only for him but for his family,” said David Bright.

Crown lawyers Glen Scheuer and Joseph Selvaratnam say it was a difficult and lengthy trial, and don’t doubt the decision was a difficult one to make.

“This is a significant breach of trust that’s been involved here given the position of the offender,” said Selvaratnam. “He’s now an offender, he’s been convicted. So, the Crown will consider very carefully what we put forward.”

All three lawyers say they will be working together on sentencing recommendations.

“That is something that we will be discussing and we have no predetermined figures in relation to this matter but I can state that these are very serious offences and would likely result in a very serious disposition on the part of the court,” said Scheuer.

Burnett will be sentenced on July 4.

— With a file from Alexa MacLean

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