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Monday, November 17, 2014

Fish War

"This case is about murder for lobster."
"You will hear through witnesses Landry using his own words, 'Get him. ... Kill him'."
Steve Drake, Crown prosecutor, Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia

"That bullet that was recovered from Philip Boudreau's boat was fired from that particular firearm."
Cpl. Fraser Firth, RCMP investigator

"If the current is moving at .5 knots, it will move a victim along the bottom," he said. "The body was not there."
Constable Tom McLeod, incident commander, RCMP dive team

Philip Boudreau disappeared in June 2013 and is presumed dead. Four people have been charged in connection with the case.
Philip Boudreau disappeared in June 2013 and is presumed dead. Four people have been charged in connection with the case.(CBC News)

What evil lurks in the heart of man is not quite understood by the rational minds that seek to find cause and impetus to murder. That one man might harbour such an intense urge to kill another man, and over an issue as banal as fishing, is itself unfathomable. That others, companion to that scheming man would allow themselves to be enlisted into his deadly scheme is yet another mystery.

Famously, when investigating what made someone as seemingly innocuous as Adolf Eichmann follow orders that expressed themselves in the determination to mechanistically slaughter millions of innocent children, women and men, Hannah Arendt wrote of the 'banality of evil'. In that any ordinary complacently obedient individual could be bent to the wishes of a psychopath.

From a small traditional fishing village, a 43-year-old fisherman prepared for a day's foray with the advent of the lobster season, a lucrative sea catch available within a limited time frame. Since the break of dawn many other fishers had taken their boats out on the water that morning in June of 2013, leaving Petit de Grat harbour for what the day's prospect would merit them.

Phillip Boudreau drove his speedboat. Joseph James Landry, 67, of Little Anse, Cape Breton was out on the water too, his watercraft significantly larger than the speedboat. Aboard with him were three other people. They have all been charged with the deliberate murder of Mr. Boudreau.
 'Murder for lobster' trial
Police seized the Twin Maggies and secured it in a locked compound in nearby Arichat.

The Twin Maggies, owned by Mr. Landry's daughter, instead of setting out deeper at sea remained at the mouth of the harbour. The plan appearing to be the scuttling of Mr. Boudeau's fishing plans for the day. To accomplish that the large watercraft was aimed directly at Mr. Boudreau's speedboat, ramming it three times.

The small speedboat capsized. Mr. Boudreau has never been found.  Speaking to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury before Nova Scotia Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Kennedy, Mr. Drake described the episode where Mr. Landry, armed with a rifle, fired four shots, one hitting Mr. Boudreau's leg. Mr. Boudreau had been clutching a red gas can floating in the water after his speedboat overturned at the third ramming event.

This much is known and more because a deckhand on the Twin Maggies, Craig Landry, described the event. He described how Joseph James Landry hooked Mr. Boudreau with a fishing gaff. Mr. Boudeau slipped out of his sweater, but then Mr. Landry hooked him again. Craig Landry described seeing white foam emitted from Mr. Boudreaus mouth, his body face down in the water.

The three-man crew responded to this end-of-life crisis by helpfully tying an anchor to the man's neck and upper arms, and releasing him into a depth of about 22 metres. "That's deep enough", Joseph Landry said approvingly. As for Craig Landry, who described the grim scene, he no longer faces a charge of second-degree murder, but one of accessory after the fact.

The Twin Maggies captain, Dwayne Matthew Samson of d'Escousse, faces a second-degree murder charge as well, and his wife Carla Samson, daughter of Joseph James Landry and herself owner of the lobster boat, faces a charge of accessory after the fact. At the first day of the trial, ten witnesses were heard from. Cpl. Firth testified on the seizure of firearms from Dwayne Matthew Samon's home.

Among them a lever-action Winchester rifle. Four bullet holes were noted in Mr. Boudreau's boat. Investigators also recovered a spent round. Defence lawyer Luke Craggs in questioning Cpl. Firth heard that a videotaped interview arranged at the RCMP detachment in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia, elicited culpatory statements from Craig Landry.

While the speedboat was recovered, its motor missing, discovered by a local fisherman, despite an extensive search by police, only Mr. Boudreau's baseball cap and his green rubber boots were recovered, about 20 metres off shore.

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