HOW AN INFORMANT CONNED THE RCMP -- AND GOT AWAY
Richard Young was paid by Victoria officers as a snitch. Problem was, he was also a liar. Yet, in exchange, he got a new identity -- which he used to commit murder.
Richard Young wasn't recruited by the Mounties for his information. He approached them in the summer of 2000 -- a "walk-in," as one officer referred to him.
The RCMP in Victoria have never explained why they thought this guy would be useful. They didn't know a lot about him, and what they did know wasn't flattering. He was being investigated by a local police department on allegations that he defrauded his landlord of $48,000. They also knew he owed his foster father $78,500 on a line of credit he had taken out for him.
But they signed him up as a police informant all the same.
They gave him a handler, an RCMP officer who was assigned to build trust with Young and extract tips about Victoria's criminal underworld. The officer was in unfamiliar territory, too. He had just started with the RCMP's Vancouver Island District Drug Section and Young was his second informant in 12 years of policing.
The informant and the handler followed protocol: Young was given a code name, E8060, and he talked to the officer regularly. The RCMP hasn't specified how much he made in those early days -- only saying he was paid on "an individual evaluation of information basis" -- but it couldn't have been much. He hadn't infiltrated any big-name gangs. None of his tips had led to the execution of any search warrants or wiretaps.
But three months into Young's fledgling career, he gave the RCMP a gift.
At a Christmas party on Dec. 5, 2000, Young met and befriended Barry Liu.
The Mounties had been after Liu for years, and had arrested him in 1999 as part of what they alleged was an international heroin smuggling ring that stretched all the way to Burma and Thailand.
Liu worked as a waiter and as a grocery clerk, but allegedly owned three homes and was a part-owner in an auto detailing shop.
The RCMP believed he was behind much of the heroin on the streets of Victoria and that he was an associate of a Vancouver criminal network with possible links to the Big Circle Boys. The Big Circle Boys, a gang originating in Hong Kong, had a reputation for being ruthless, and no one had come close to penetrating them with an undercover agent -- until the new snitch talked his way into Liu's crew.
Liu didn't speak English well and needed a new lawyer to represent him on the heroin charges. Young seemed to know his way around and had the name of a lawyer, Tom Bulmer, whom he had hired in an unsuccessful bid to buy a nightclub. He introduced Liu to the lawyer and Bulmer agreed to take Liu's case.
The accused heroin dealer and Young became so tight that Liu asked him to serve as a sort of legal liaison. Young had full access to Liu's legal file, and on at least one occasion, took it home from Bulmer's office so he could read it and explain some things to his Asian friend.
They were practically attached to each other. If Liu went to the lawyer's office, Young went with him. Young became a fixture at Liu's car shop, Auto FX Accessories, where a lot of young Asian men, with souped-up Honda Civics and Preludes, spent their time and money.
The intelligence began pouring in to the RCMP.
Young paged his handler constantly with news. He was asked to draw diagrams, so the police knew exactly who was sitting where with Liu at his various meetings. Sometimes, Young spoke to his handler several times a day.
"Generally, I just let him talk," the officer would later testify.
The timing couldn't have been better, because on Jan. 9, 2001, Young said he had come across some terrifying news.
Young told his handler Liu had threatened to harm an unnamed Crown attorney.
The Mountie needed more information. There was a lot at stake in the upcoming heroin smuggling trial, one of the most expensive cases in the history of the RCMP. Was it possible the accused drug lords were trying to derail it with bloodshed?
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At some point during the past decade, a man was convicted of killing someone. You can't know who this killer is, or who he killed.
But we can tell you about his old life -- when Victoria RCMP recruited him as a police informant and later placed him in the Witness Protection Program.
That program costs Canadian taxpayers between $2 million and $3 million most years, and is legally shielded from almost all public scrutiny.
A court has ruled that we can publish only the information that follows about Richard Young, a man who fooled Canada's national police force into paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars for evidence that existed only in his imagination.
Fri, 23 Mar 2007
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)