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Kelowna reporter under investigation for undercover drug buy that led to police raid

July 30, 2012 1 comment

Castanet reporter Kelly Hayes has some serious cojones. But it seems the RCMP thinks they may be a little too big. (Castanet is an established Kelowna news website)

Hayes made an undercover drug buy, filmed the deal, turned the evidence over to the cops, and is now apparently being investigated by the RCMP for his actions.

Earlier this month, a Kelowna resident contacted Hayes to complain about the constant traffic and relentless noise at the apartment unit above her. She took video and, convinced her neighbour was a drug deal, spoke to the RCMP. She was told she didn’t have proof, so she then went to Castanet, which showed a hell of a lot more initiative. Here’s Hayes’s story.

He went undercover as a pothead, bot $40 worth of weed, then turned the whole thing, plus the video evidence, over to the cops. Hours later, police raided the unit.

The RCMP said they were already monitoring the house. Castanet news director Trevor Rockliffe said Hayes was being monitored during the transaction to ensure his safety.

From the story:

“Kelly told the RCMP and we waited a couple of weeks for something to happen, when nothing was being done we shot the video.”

The news director says he prefers his team to report the news and not be the news, but sometimes you have to do what you can to help people.

“Our concern is for the neighbour who brought the complaint to us. She is at risk, and she knows it.  She was put at risk by the city when they tried to send a letter to her stating they were looking into the drug situation at the property. The letter never reached her, it was addressed to the dealers upstairs. Something had to be done.”

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Three people are facing charges, but the RCMP say they are also investigating Hayes’s actions. They told Castanet:

“We are considering the totality of the circumstances including the quantity of drugs and the intent of the transaction on his part. We are continuing to consult with Crown Counsel.”

The RCMP spokesperson said the force doesn’t condone the actions and that Hayes “committed a criminal offence” (which could be a legally risky thing to say).

Hayes told the Vancouver Sun that he’s upset that he could face charges.

“I was pissed,” Hayes said, saying it was the RCMP’s idea that Stein go public with the story. The Kelowna RCMP did not make anyone available on Sunday to discuss the case.

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This isn’t the first video shot by Hayes to lead to criminal charges—but the last time it happened, it was a Mountie who ended up in court. (The Mountie was recently acquitted on one assault charge but still faces the count linked to Hayes’s video.)

If I was Hayes I wouldn’t be too worried. The fact that the RCMP officer is speaking about “the intent of the transaction” seems designed to give the cops and Crown counsel the ability to not lay charges. It’s understandable that they want to discourage people from orchestrating their own undercover drug buys. So they’ll likely huff and they’ll puff and in the end no charges will be laid. At least I’d assume that’s what will happen. Still, I can understand Kelly’s concern. He did, after all, buy $40 worth of pot, on camera.

January? That happened.

February 1, 2011 Comments off

Is this a new feature? Maybe, if the blog survives another month.

Here’s what you may have missed in January if you haven’t been following the J-lust religiously:

Nelson Star editor Bob Hall penned a must-read column on what it was like to be the final editor of the Nelson Daily News when Black Press made the decision to send the newspaper to a farm in the country, and then to be hired by Black Press to edit the Star.

Kamloops Daily News sports editor Gregg Drinnan was banned from speaking to members of the Kamloops Blazers after team management took offence to his reporter. Outrage ensued. The WHL were taken to task for being out to lunch on the issue. The Blazers were ridiculed as the ban blew up in their faces. It became clear that the WHL didn’t know what the fuck was going on. The Blazers met with the paper and the league. The ban was lifted, the Daily News promised to not change a thing, and the Blazers have continued to suck.

The aforementioned Nelson Star drove another Nelson paper out of business as the Express closed up shop, blaming aggressive competition from the Star. Meanwhile the Nelson Daily, an online newsite, took a swipe at Black Press but needlessly ignored the Post.

Former Prince George Free Press Reporter Michelle Lang, who died while reporting for the Calgary Herald in Afghanistan, was remembered a year after her death.

A Trail Daily Times reporter had the means to retire at the age of 54. I expressed disbelief and envy.

I criticized Black Press for sponsoring the lamest award ever: the CCNA award for best holiday edition.

A video of a cop kicking a man under arrest that was shot by Castanet reporter Kelly Hayes on his iPhone sparked an investigation and nationwide news coverage. He later shot an exclusive interview with the man, Buddy Tavares.

Mounties began an investigation into whether the Nanaimo Daily News and reporters Danielle Bell and Derek Spalding breached a publication ban with a recent article. But the Daily News pushed back, saying the cops were just bitter because the story left them with “egg on their face.”

Penticton Herald editor James Miller wrote about his brave turn as a transvestite on stage. In a strange sort of synergy, the aforementioned aforementioned Bob Hall also confessed to growing muttonchops and a moustache for a pantomime role as a snake oil salesman.

I asked “Why is there so much bullshit in community newspapers?” in an expletive-filled column.

Derek Bouchard, a long-time radio news guy with CHBQ 1280 (about which I can find little information) in Powell River, is running for city council. Derek no longer works in radio, according to the bio on his “Derek Bouchard for City Council” Facebook page. Instead, he’s now working for a company that maintains Canada Post mailboxes.

Good news for any Postmedia editor who, for whatever reason, would want to be publisher as Marlyn Graziano was named publisher of the Surrey Now. Marlyn was the editor of the paper until 2000, when she took over as editorial director of Canwest Community Publishing. She’ll keep those duties too.

Alaska Highway News reporter Ryan Lux fought off “a drug-addled delinquent” who burst into his Fort St. John apartment uninvited and threatened to kill him. Then he wrote about it in a gripping first-hand account you’ve got to read.

And Burnaby Now editor Pat Tracy gave all aspiring journalists a cheat-sheet for finding work in a newsroom with a terrific post on her blog. I added my two cents.

To recap the recap:

Shame on you award: Kamloops Blazers.

Exclusive Castanet video with cop-kicked man

January 15, 2011 Comments off

Last week Kelly Hayes of Castanet got the scoop of a career when he came across, and filmed, a police officer kicking a prone man after reports of shots being fired at a Kelowna golf course. Yesterday, Castanet posted an exclusive sit-down interview between Hayes and the now-released man, Buddy Tavares.

Below is the video, which has been posted on YouTube (by Castanet). But if you want to give Castanet a deserved page view, you can watch the 20-minute long interview here. Again, videos are great, but I don’t understand why those who take video don’t always then write a news story using the film as the primary source. Seems an easy way to score hits, attract more readers and offer something more than YouTube. Here’s a CBC story that cribs from it.

Castanet video prompts investigation (updated)

January 13, 2011 Comments off

Video is no longer the be all and end all for community newspaper chiefs, but a film shot by a local reporter in Kelowna shows that all you need is an iPhone to get a huge scoop.

As you may be aware of by now, Kelly Hayes of Castanet.net headed to a local golf course Friday morning after hearing reports of shots being fired. When he arrived, he found a police officer arresting Buddy Tavares. Hayes started recording on his iPhone as a Mountie, with gun drawn, booted Tavares in the face.

It’s a great scoop and one instance where video tells much more of a story, and makes much more news, than a simple photograph—which the police can explain away much easier.

Here’s the edited Castanet video. And here’s the raw footage (this should be  somewhere up front on the Castanet site, but isn’t).

And here’s a good follow-up from the Kelowna Capital News and reporter Cheryl Wierda (with video of the guy getting out of jail). (Kudos to the Cap News for mentioning that the video came from Castanet and Hayes).

The video has now sparked an investigation and the suspension of the officer in question.

While I’m in the area, I’ll point out Vernon Morning Star reporter Roger Knox‘s excellent story on a Vernon guy acquitted of murder after he killed his friend and chopped up his body. The guy was legitimately insane, it turns out.

According to his father, Nathan John Mayrhofer was always a “champion of the underdog.”

Which is why it wasn’t a surprise that Mayrhofer befriended Kenneth Scott Barter when the pair worked at a Vernon business.

Mayrhofer, said his father, John, encouraged Barter to seek treatment for his issues which included a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

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