Kamloops RCMP held a perimeter around a Dallas neighbourhood on Feb. 14, 2019,, stopping residents from accessing their homes from Dallas Drive. Police were investigating a robbery and kidnapping, with assailants and victims involved in the drug trade in the city. Photograph By DAVE EAGLES

Guilty verdict in Kamloops kidnapping trial

B.C. Supreme Court Justice found Michael Mathieson guilty on a number of charges

  • Oct. 9, 2020 3:05 p.m.

Kamloops This Week

Incriminating text messages and selfie photos on a phone seized by anti-gang police officers helped convince a judge on Friday (Oct. 9) of the guilt of one of three men arrested following a beating, a pre-planned robbery and a kidnapping last year in the middle of a deadly Kamloops gang war.

However, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Nathan Smith said prosecutors failed to link a gun seized by police to the violent crime spree, meaning the time Michael Mathieson is likely to spend behind bars will be much shorter than it could have been.

Mathieson, 40, stood trial over three weeks in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops on charges of armed robbery, unlawful confinement, kidnapping with a firearm and assault. Smith found him guilty of unlawful confinement, robbery, kidnapping and assault.

Police stumbled upon a kidnapping in progress in the early-morning hours of Feb. 14, 2019, while monitoring a wiretap as part of a separate ongoing investigation.

Court heard the violent spree began hours earlier when a man was beaten inside a suite at the Hospitality Inn in Lower Sahai. Mathieson was one of the assailants. The victim told police he was beaten, burned with a lighter and struck with a Taser-like weapon in the neck and genitals.

Mathieson and another man then went to the Acadian Inn on the east end of downtown and entered a suite, holding a couple against their will. Mathieson then texted an acquaintance, pretending to be someone else, luring him to the suite with the promise of money.

When the target arrived with his girlfriend and a friend, the two men were robbed, strip-searched and hog-tied. The woman was then kidnapped and taken to the target’s home in Dallas, which was ransacked, then to Kelowna.

In Kelowna, Mathieson handed the kidnapped woman over to a driver, to be taken back to Kamloops. She was rescued by police during a high-risk traffic stop in Falkland, after which Mounties found a bag containing a gun and a bottle of vodka with Mathieson’s fingerprint on it.

Mathieson was arrested three days later by gang-enforcement police. His Samsung phone was seized and searched, turning up information linking him to the robbery and kidnapping and identifying himself as “Mike” and “Mathieson.” Selfies on the phone also showed Mathieson’s face, court heard.

The issue at trial was identity. Mathieson’s lawyers, Dustin Gagnon and Joe Killoran, poked holes in the credibility of Crown witnesses, some of whom were people struggling with addiction and with little apparent reason to co-operate with police or prosecutors.

In handing down his decision, Smith noted those credibility problems, but found that, when coupled with the circumstantial evidence turned up on the seized Samsung phone, it was enough to convict.

“If the Crown’s case rested entirely on that circumstantial evidence, it may not be enough for a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Smith said. “This case is not based entirely on the circumstantial evidence.”

Had Smith found Mathieson guilty of the firearms-related charges, he could have been facing a mandatory five extra years behind bars.

He is still likely to receive a stiff sentence, though. Justin Daniels, charged alongside Mathieson, pleaded guilty in August and was sentenced on Friday, just before Smith’s decision, to 7.5 years in a federal penitentiary.

Daniels, 40, pleaded guilty to counts of armed robbery, kidnapping with a firearm and robbery — the latter count relating to the Hospitality Inn incident. After being given credit for time served, his sentence was shortened to 5.5 years.

In addition to the prison time, Daniels was handed a lifetime firearms ban and ordered to submit a sample of his DNA to a national criminal database.

A third accused, Robert Rennie, has been on the lam since he was granted bail in April. A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The incidents took place in the middle of a bloody Kamloops gang war that left three people dead and others injured.

Mathieson, who moved from Kamloops to the Lower Mainland after he was charged, will return to court on Nov. 4 in Vancouver to set a date for sentencing. He is not in custody.

READ MORE: Kamloops Mounties happened upon alleged gang-related robbery, kidnapping

READ MORE: Trial underway for Kamloops man charged with kidnapping

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Salmon Arm RCMP say residents have been receiving calls from fraudster claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP warn of scammer claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House

Police say scammer requests fee to claim sweepstakes prizes

In response to complaints from residents and city hall, a sign was erected recently at the east end of Salmon Arm, asking truckers to avoid the use of engine brakes, particularly as they head down the hill into town. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm gets hopeful sign in quest to reduce trucks’ engine brake noise

Mayor asks RCMP to patrol hill on Trans-Canada Highway between 30th St NE and McGuire Lake

During her PhD, Dr. Sylvie Harder spent several field seasons at an international research station in the Swedish Arctic, researching the impacts of climate change on permafrost environments. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm raised climate scientist brings expertise to West Coast Environmental Law

Sylvie Harder looks forward to helping B.C. communities develop climate change solutions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

The Observer announces that war veterans Mait Kersey and “Dux” Duxbury have added to the Salmon Arm business section by opening their Shuswap 5¢ to $1 Store on Hudson Street, circa 1950. Image from the Denis Marshall Collection, Salmon Arm Museum at R.J. Haney Heritage Village.
Shuswap history in pictures: Downtown addition

Shuswap 5¢ to $1 Store opens on Hudson

Vernon Fire Rescue Services and Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP were called to a report of an electrical fire at the emergency response centre operated by Turning Points Collaborative Society on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, just before 5:30 p.m. The fire displaced shelter residents who have been set up with services at the Vernon Recreation Complex. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Vernon shelter residents find refuge in hotels, motels, recreation complex after fire

Electrical fire at Turning Points Collaborative Society’s emergency response centre on 37th Street

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna man charged after allegedly stealing senior’s car

Elderly woman’s car was stolen while she was shopping

Osoyoos Fire Department responded to reports of a vehicle engulfed in flames Sunday (Oct. 18) evening at a Lambert Court residence. (Osoyoos Fire Department)
Osoyoos Fire Department knock down car fire near home

Blaze was ‘really close’ to becoming a structure fire

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels more Okanagan concerts

The Contenders and Colin James postponed until 2021

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Most Read