Undercover officers took to the stand Thursday in the trial of Nathan Desharnais who has been charged with second degree murder and offering indignity to human remains after the body of Talia Nellie Meguinis, 27, was found at a recycling facility in the Riverside Industrial area on Feb. 22nd, 2012.
Two days of the trial took place last October in which a voir dire was held. A voir dire is a hearing within a trial to determine the admissibility of evidence. Today’s evidence was also held under a voir dire. The trial is expected to run through to mid-February.
The first undercover officer, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, testified he was part of a sting operation in 2012.
He said he interacted with Desharnais on four or five different occasions throughout the operation, which was dubbed Project Commando 2 – part of a larger ‘Mr. Big’ undercover operation.
“I portrayed the persona of a second (in command) from the top in a fictitious criminal organization,” said the officer.
He added throughout the undercover operation, various scenarios were conducted. The officer described scenarios as being incidents that are orchestrated by the lead officer who oversees the undercover operation.
“It can be as simple as bonding with an individual to as complex as having an individual speak about the crime that is being investigated.”
On July 17th, 2012, the undercover officer said the first scenario was conducted with Desharnais at a restaurant in Kelowna. “The objective was to elude to the fact that we were higher ups in the criminal organization,” he said, adding he never actually spoke to Desharnais that night.
On July 19th, 2012, the officer said he and other undercover agents went golfing with Desharnais at the Shannon Lake Golf Course in Kelowna. “My objectives were to interact with Nate Desharnais and form a bit of a relationship,” he said, adding he also spoke to Desharnais about what the boss (who was another undercover officer) expected out of him.
The officer testified he then interacted with Desharnais on Aug. 30th, 2012 in Toronto. Desharnais was instructed to bring a fob with what he believed had very important information on it to the fictitious criminal organization to the undercover officer. While in Toronto, the officer said that he and another undercover officer took Desharnais out for dinner at The Keg and then to the Blue Jays game. While at The Keg, the officer testified that he was instructed to talk to Desharnais about some problems that Desharnais had back in Alberta that could potentially bring some heat on the fictitious criminal organization.
“When we were done eating I excused myself to go to the washroom and I activated my audio recording device,” the officer testified. “I told Nate that I didn’t want to know what was going on, but that it could affect our organization.
“Nate Desharnais made a comment that there was no evidence and I asked how he could be sure of that. I told him not to have pride before the fall and I encouraged him to talk to the boss.”
Another scenario in the undercover operation also took place on Sept. 11th, 2012. The officer testified the objective was for the boss of the fictitious criminal organization to have a conversation with Desharnais regarding what was being investigated (the murder of Meguinis).
“We met at The Keg in Calgary and we were involved in general conversation,” the officer said, adding the boss and Desharnais departed the restaurant. “That was the last time until today that I saw Mr. Desharnais.”
Meanwhile, in June of 2014, Desharnais was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison after being charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault and unlawful confinement and imprisonment as a result of an incident that took place at his Red Deer home in June of 2012. The charge of unlawful confinement was dropped by the court after the crown stayed the charge. He is currently in custody serving that sentence at the Bowden Institution.