Calgary businessman, retired cop found guilty in harassment case

Calgary businessman, retired cop found guilty in harassment case
Were happy we did it, investigator says after conviction in Calgary millionaires trial
Jurors have found Ken Carter, a Calgary millionaire accused of paying more than $800,000 to discredit and harass his ex-girlfriend in a custody battle, guilty on charges of criminal harassment. 

The jury also found a husband and wife he had hired guilty of bribery and improperly storing firearms. Steve Walton was found guilty of criminal harassment, while no unanimous decision was made about his wife Heather's harassment charge — leading to a mistrial.

The Waltons and Carter have been on trial in Calgary for the past month on corruption-related offences. 

Steve Walton's counsel Alain Hepner described the trial as "gut-wrenching." He said addressing the jurors' questions was like a pendulum swinging.

Walton, who operated the private investigation firm Walton and Walton with his wife Heather, was allegedly employed by Carter to uncover evidence to discredit his ex-wife Akele Taylor.

Carter was a client of the Waltons, who were former Calgary Police Service employees and ran a risk management and protection company. From 2012 to 2013, Carter — who is said to be worth about $80 million — paid the Waltons $800,000 to conduct surveillance on his ex-girlfriend, Akele Taylor.

Taylor and Carter had a child together. When they broke up in August 2012, they became embroiled in a bitter custody dispute. 

In April, the three officers implicated in the incident were found guilty on a number of charges, including bribery and unauthorized use of a computer and breach of trust.

After the jury ruling on Friday, the Waltons left court and weren't keen to speak to media, but Heather did say they aren't happy with the result of the trial. 

"We're not giving up, we did the right thing, it was for a little baby girl," Heather said. "We're happy we did it, but we're not happy with this." 

"[Well] address the sentencing issues, finding of fact by the trial judge and then put our best perspectives forward for our respective clients."

In response, Crown prosecuter Ryan Persad said Walton is entitled to her opinion, but the Crown presented its evidence and doesn't believe the defence's child custody arguments were believed. 

Police are investigating a serious crash near Springbank that killed one teen and sent a second to hospital with traumatic injuries on Thursday night.

Jurors heard the Waltons and their employees used a GPS unit to follow Taylor. They also offered her friends and family members money for negative information about her. They're accused of trying to intimidate her into giving Carter full custody of their daughter.

Heather Waltons lawyer Kelsey Sitar says it will be up to the prosecutors office whether or not they will pursue a retrial for the seventh charge.

Defence lawyers painted Taylor as an unfit mother and a drug addict, arguing the Waltons conducted surveillance on Taylor to monitor her lifestyle and provided security for Carter and his daughter.

Text messages between the three accused and others who worked for them appear to show an effort to wear Taylor down.

"She's getting near the end of her rope," Carter wrote to Steve Walton in one message. "We need to push her over the edge.

Crown prosecutor Ryan Persad says the trial put the justice system through every possible test, but the jury did their job.

On top of harassment charges, the Waltons are also accused of bribery for allegedly paying Calgary Police Service members to access police databases to retrieve information they sought about Taylor and her friends.

"Certainly, we will continue through the remainder of the process on the convictions that have been registered."

During the execution of a search warrant on the Waltons' home, police found firearms that investigators said were improperly stored, so the couple also faces charges in connection with those allegations. 

Guilty verdicts have been filed for six of the seven charges laid against Steve Walton, Heather Walton and Ken Carter.

Weeks before the trial, Taylor disappeared and never testified for the prosecution. She told the lead detective she no longer wanted to see Carter convicted. 

"I think that the jury was cautioned about its duty and they delivered their verdict as they were required."

But she did testify earlier this year in a different trial. In April, three current and former police officers — Bryan Morton, Brad McNish and Tony Braile — were convicted of corruption-related offences for their participation in the harassment of Taylor. The officers were employees of the Waltons.

Ken Carter was found guilty of criminal harassment in connection with an incident involving his ex-wife Akele Taylor.

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The scheme was hatched to give Carter leverage in a bitter custody dispute involving the couples young daughter.

A former Calgary police officer and a Calgary businessman have each been found guilty of criminal harassment by a jury.

"A 14-month-old baby girl was being saved and were happy we did it," said Heather Walton.

Millionaire businessman Kenneth Carter had paid a firm — run by former detective Steve Walton — for surveillance of his ex-common-law wife.

Carter and the woman were in a custody dispute over their daughter in August 2014, when the woman came forward to police with her concerns of being surveilled.

Walton and his wife — who was a civilian member of the Calgary Police Service until 2003 — were also found guilty of bribing Calgary police officers.

The judge declared a mistrial on the charge of criminal harassment against Heather Walton after the jury could not come up with a verdict.

Thats what a mistrial tells us, Kelsey Sitar, counsel for Mrs. Walton said on Friday. It was an incredibly difficult set of deliberations for these jurors.

After the trial, Alain Hepner, lawyer for Mr. Walton, declined comment on a possibility of an appeal.

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