Calgary millionaire Ken Carter and the private investigator he hired to track down his ex-girlfriend have been found not guilty of perjury regarding his testimony in a custody fight in family court.
Queen’s Bench Court Judge David Labrenz, in a lengthy decision Friday, said he had a “reasonable doubt” that Carter and Steve Walton, a retired Calgary Police Service officer, lied about their business relationship during the 2014 hearing about daughter Carter and her ex, Akele Taylor, shares.
Carter paid Walton and his wife, Heather, more than $800,000 to keep an eye on Taylor after the couple’s acrimonious split two years earlier. Unlicensed detectives then hired police officers to tail Taylor, leading to a separate police corruption case that resulted in the conviction of multiple officers.
Carter and Walton were separately convicted of criminally harassing Taylor during months of surveillance on her. Both have appealed those verdicts.
The Crown further claimed that both men lied about their business relationship and how Walton’s surveillance would proceed, leading to the perjury trial.
Lawyers for the two defendants argued that there was no reason or evidence to show that they had conspired to mislead the custody hearing judge.
On Friday, Labrenz said he was not convinced Carter had a motive to perjure himself and risk losing custody of his son.
“It would make little sense, for one thing, that Mr. Carter perjured himself when he made the decision to accept the recommendation of the court’s parenting expert. Lying would jeopardize what he was after,” Labrenz said.
He also accepted defense arguments that Walton made all operational decisions as his investigation unfolded.
“The communications between Mr. Walton and Mr. Carter referred to by the Crown did not convince me otherwise, either on the basis that Mr. Carter was making suggestions or that he came to learn some of the techniques of investigation that are used or who was employing them”, said Labrenz.
“It was also apparent that Mr. Walton was not advising Mr. Carter on how specifically some of the information passed to him was obtained.”
The judge said he would not publish the reasons for his decision as is often the case, to prevent Carter and Taylor’s daughter from reading the details of the case in the future.