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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.

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Fundraiser for Cap News photographer battling cancer

January 13, 2012 Comments off

Kelowna Capital News photographer Sean Connor, who is battling a rare form of brain cancer, has recently returned from California, where he has been receiving “specialized proton radiation treatment,” according to the paper.

 

“Sean’s many Kelowna media friends are getting together and inviting the public to celebrate his recovery so far, and to raise funds to help him and his family with their expenses,” said event organizer Kim Calloway, in a press release. 

“Through the years, Sean’s photography has supported and promoted no end of community endeavours, and we’ve organized this special night to try to repay the favour.”


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As noted, there’s a fundraiser Feb. 2 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Kelowna Community Theatre. Sean was diagnosed last July. While BC Medical has covered the treatment for Sean, it doesn’t cover all those expensive incidentals that come along with cancer treatment, not to mention cancer treatment in another country. 

A bunch of fine photography will be auctioned off, along with other items. More items are still needed though.

For more information on the event, or to donate to Sean’s cause or to donate items to the silent auction,   contact Heather McCullough at 250-808-0131 or heathermc@telus.net. Alternatively, call Kim Calloway at 250-763-6397 or email him at kimc@q1031.ca.

 

Oh, and Sean and his wife Sandra will be on hand at the auction so stop by to say hi.

   

Would you like some wine with your story of the day?

March 9, 2011 Comments off

Over the next six weeks I’m going to try and showcase some of the stories up for awards.

The goal is to post a link to, and excerpt from, one article each day most days around lunch. We’ll see how that goes.

Featured today is Judie Steeves‘s report on the Okanagan wine industry for the Kelowna Capital News. The story is up for the Ma Murray for best business writing award.

In the past couple of decades B.C.’s wines have popped out of the paper bag and into a place of honour on the global wine stage.

They’ve gone from being the cartoon, with labels like Fuddle Duck and Baby Duck, to being serious art, like Calona Vineyards’ Artist Series, with original art on the label as well as in the bottle.

And, along the way, winemakers went from being geeks working in the background to ‘rock stars’ accepting tributes in the foreground—along with chefs in today’s food-and-wine-loving society.

…Spawned in response to the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., the revolution in B.C.’s wine industry was the result of a determination by grape growers and winemakers to keep the industry afloat despite a sea of imports that threatened to drown it.

To do so, they ripped out acres and acres of hybrid grapes and replanted with premium viniferas, turning the industry on its ear in the process.

Soon admits in the early days they had to import grapes to make B.C. wines palatable—the local grapes were so bad.

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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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Interior roundup

December 22, 2010 Comments off

Castlegar News reporter Kim Magi skis for the third time ever, faceplants into a snowbank and writes about the experience, which always makes for an entertaining story. Welcome to the Kootenays. Money quote:

Even though my first ski of the season brought many lessons and words of advice from various mountain-goers, the best came from Rossland News reporter Andrew Bennett:

“Just don’t fall into the ‘slow’ signs, because that’s really embarrassing.”

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Kevin Parnell of the Kelowna Capital News profiles a hockey player who has turned his career around by finding a new attitude.

Across town at the Kelowna Daily Courier, Ron Seymour writes an interesting council story. It helps that it involves a grandfather-to-be councillor’s success at saving bunny rabbits. Nice pun in the lede too. Also, Kelowna has a councillor named Graeme James? Tough luck for him. (Among other things, the Daily Courier web stories really need paragraph breaks. It’s the least they can do to make it easier to read on the web.)

Two stories from Revelstoke Times-Review reporter Alex Cooper: one on two Revelstoke men on opposite ends of a dramatic rescue at Lake Louise; the other on the local high school’s embrace of social media. The latter seems like a great way to get parents involved in their kids’ schooling:

One parent (who asked not to be named) said he checked the blog for his son’s grade 12 biology class several times a week. He used to e-mail his son’s teachers for updates, which his son resented because he perceived it as going behind his back to keep track of his work. Now, the parent accesses the blog to find out what is going on in class and help out his son.

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The Rossland News goes on the attack against a Mr. Dirty Hippo in an editorial. I’m not joking. He’s a mean web commenter, turns out. Then it gets better:

At about the same time, David Sidley — or at least someone calling from his phone — left a voice message at the Rossland News with regard to last week’s editorial. Without introducing himself, the caller jumped right into claims that “you are obviously just another psychopath” and described city staff as “minions,” in response to our critique of what we described as Coun. Laurie Charlton’s “persistent negativity.”

It was the caller’s opinion that “it’s not a real newspaper when you vilify people who don’t agree with your masters.” Masters? Ah yes, did we forget to mention the suitcase of cash we received for the editorial?

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Ba-doop-boop-tssssh…(That’s supposed to sound like a symbol ala. Late Night)

Kevin Mitchell of the Vernon Morning Star writes that Kevin Martin is going to Hawaii and Jeff Stoughton is going to Winnipeg after their battle at a recently wrapped major curling event in Vernon. Martin’s team agreed that the game was really “a beauty.”

And another new reporter (OK, not brand new, I’m slow on the uptake): Megan Cole left Vancouver to work at the Fernie Free Press.  First she wanted to be a journalist. Then she wanted to be a lawyer. Then she wanted to be a journalist again. I’m guessing the paycheque convinced her. Or note. Either way, welcome. Now you can ask Kim for skiing lessons.

Finally, back in the Lower Mainland, here’s part two of Paul Henderson‘s two part series on a killer who infiltrated Chilliwack.

Photo by Greg Younger via Flickr.

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Ogopogo, Santa Claus and genetically modified apples

December 4, 2010 Comments off

Lots of links today from the southern interior:

J.P. Squire of the Kelowna Daily Courier is on the Ogopogo beat this week. Seems like someone saw some suspicious water spouts happening on the lake. He also reveals that, unusually, nobody has reported an Ogopogo sighting this year. By the way, the websites of the Courier and its sister paper, the Penticton Herald, are truly horrendous. Like 1997 bad. Sorry. Apparently some company called WEM-Tech claims responsibility for the site. If I was them, I wouldn’t.

Great story by Alex Cooper of the Revelstoke Times-Review on contrasting projections for the future of the mountain town. Some say the population will double, others disagree.

Frigid and dark Christmas parades can be a nightmare to shoot, but Castlegar News reporter Kim Magi and editor Robson Fletcher pulled off the treat and delivered a pretty good slide show.

Angela Treharne of the Fernie Free Press talks to a guy who was finally — yes, he has tried before — allowed to camp next to the Fernie Alpine Resort ski lift the night before opening day.

An engineer is warning that a “housing unit” will fall onto a business Kamloops street, according to a lawsuit dug up by Cam Fortems of the Kamloops Daily News.

Steve Kidd of the Penticton Western News writes about a new type of apple that doesn’t go brown. The apple was developed in neighbouring Summerland but is causing concern among B.C. fruit growers. Also in the Western News, Kristi Patton on a judge overruling a dead man’s will.

Did you know that if you t take a bottle of wine with you into Alberta this holiday season you’ll be breaking the law, a.k.a. smuggling? I do, thanks to Judie Steeves of the Kelowna Capital News.

This volleyball photo looks good on the Merritt Herald website. But it’s hard to tell because it’s so freaking small.

Locals give mixed reviews to the filming of a movie in the West Kootenay to Nelson Star reporter Greg Nesteroff. Also in the Star is this story about a lawyer and university professor convicted of fraud. Good story but no byline (although Nesteroff is credited for the photo).

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