The coroner suspends his public inquiry into the Carpentier case
Until March 2021, Alain Croteau worked as a police officer with the Sûreté du Québec. He was a search co-ordinating sergeant. (File photo)
The potential testimony of Alain Croteau forced the suspension on Tuesday of the coroner's public inquest into the deaths of Romy, Norah and Martin Carpentier. Minutes before Mr. Croteau testified, the lawyer who represents Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers tried to challenge his status as an expert because of the criticisms he received. made towards police work in July 2020.
Coroner Luc Malouin seemed irritated by this surprising situation. He gave the various parties a month to debate the expert status of the witness.
This is an extremely important question of law. I give you 30 days to give me feedback. This is an essential legal question. You have until April 21 to provide me with your comments, and the legal aspect of the matter. I will therefore have to decide whether Mr. Croteau is an expert or not, the coroner said, before suspending his inquest until further notice.
“I fully intend to finish this investigation before Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. There is a family, and it is a priority, we will all undo our schedules if necessary. »
— Luc Malouin
This is the first time since the start of the investigation that a witness called to the bar raises the debate. Alain Croteau's testimony had been planned since the start of the public inquiry, almost a month ago.
It would have been fun to know that before this morning, criticized the coroner.
In particular, he criticizes Me Daniel Rochefort, who represents the Professional Association of Officers of the Sûreté du Québec (APOSQ), for having raised this point at the last minute.
“What I regret is that it's been months. […] After 15 days of hearings, you come to raise doubts about the status of expert. »
— Luc Malouin
Deputy Chief Coroner Luc Malouin (File photo)
Alain Croteau is a former ground search coordinator sergeant at the SQ. He has managed many operations during his career and until his retirement in March 2021 he provided training for his colleagues.
He was not on site during the events of July 2020, which is why he was invited as an expert witness.
In the past, notably during a report on the program Enquête, he greatly criticized the work of the police during the field research to find the Carpentier trio.
He particularly pointed to the decision to redirect the search nearly ten kilometers from the last clue, on July 10, which greatly delayed the search, according to him.
According to Me Rochefort, this position prevents him from being able to testify as an expert.
His bias, yes, we attack him from our own perspective. He is not an expert. Now, does he have experience, yes. Are there others who have more experience than him? Yes, mentioned the lawyer to Coroner Malouin.
Field research is at the heart of this debate, there is someone who will meet with us to tell us [what happened], Coroner Malouin replied clearly, however, to emphasize the importance to hear an expert witness in field research during the investigation.
The lawyer representing Amélie Lemieux, the mother of Norah and Romy, also questioned the decision to attack Alain Croteau, in particular because his testimony is echoed in the testimony of other experts, including Gérald Malette, retired from the Ontario Provincial Police Emergency Measures Team. Mr. Malette's report reflects Mr. Croteau's report. In terms of procedural puzzles, I wouldn't want to be in your shoes, Me Jean-François Leroux told the coroner.
Recall that Romy, Norah and Martin Carpentier were found dead at the end of the operation.