Garry Taylor Handlen entered a plea of not guilty to the first-degree murder of the 12-year-old Monica Jack (pictured). (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Garry Taylor Handlen entered a plea of not guilty to the first-degree murder of the 12-year-old Monica Jack (pictured). (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Crown tells jury to accept undercover confession of B.C. girl’s murder

Garry Handlen is charged with the 1978 murder of Monica Jack a 12-year-old girl from Merritt

The confession and later statements of a British Columbia man leave no reasonable doubt he abducted, sexually assaulted and killed a 12-year-old girl in 1978, a Crown counsel told jurors Thursday in British Columbia Supreme Court.

Gordon Matei said in closing arguments that Garry Handlen’s detailed admission to an undercover RCMP officer in Minden, Ont., in November 2014 was not coerced and was motivated by his belief he would escape prosecution.

“He was relieved to divulge a secret that he had been carrying with him for 36 years,” Matei said.

In the videotaped confession shown in court, the supposed boss of an organized crime group tells Handlen police have DNA evidence against him as well as accounts from witnesses but an ailing man would take the blame if Handlen provided information about the crime.

RELATED: B.C. jury trial hears police-sting audio of man accused of killing girl, 12

Handlen, who had been the subject of an undercover operation for about nine months, says he grabbed Monica Jack at a pullout on a highway in Merritt, B.C., threw her bike into a lake and forced her into his pickup truck before choking the girl and leaving her body on a hill.

Jack’s skull and some bones were found there 17 years later.

Handlen also agreed to go to British Columbia’s Interior and show members of the crime group the spot where he said he’d snatched Jack.

The Crown presented a videotaped recording of Handlen in a vehicle with another undercover officer as the two drive along a highway and he is asked if he’d heard any media reports indicating where Jack may have last been seen.

“I’m the only one that knows that stuff, nobody else does,” Handlen says.

“You heard it,” Matei told jurors, adding: “That’s because he raped, he abducted and he killed Monica Jack.”

Handlen has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Matei said Handlen did not want to stop at the pullout or elsewhere in Merritt because he believed witnesses could identify him years later, even though the undercover officer had deceived him about having been seen on May 6, 1978, the day Jack disappeared.

“If he didn’t do anything what’s he concerned about?” he asked jurors.

He said Handlen wasn’t a ”yes man” who would have admitted to a “horrible crime” that he didn’t commit.

The fictitious crime group, for which Handlen did jobs like repossessing vehicles, did not provide inducements that would have had him confess to something he didn’t do, Matei said.

Handlen also had a partner of 30 years, lots of work, including as a handyman, that met his financial needs and had a wide circle of friends so wasn’t dependent on the connections he’d made with members of the group, Matei said.

“He was convinced that the police were going to get him and he knew he had done it.”

RELATED: Crown says man guilty of B.C. girl’s 1978 murder based on alleged confession

While Handlen told some “tall tales,” such as saying he’d played semi-professional lacrosse for a team in New Westminster, rappelled down a rope from a helicopter and went water skiing on one ski, his confession had a “ring of truth,” Matei said.

“He’s not on trial for boasting,” he said, adding Handlen’s lies were intended to make himself seem better.

“To confess to killing a 12-year-old girl is not going to make Mr. Handlen seem better than he was,” Matei told the jury.

“Don’t leave your common sense at the door when you go into the jury room.”

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

natural gas
FortisBC takes innovative steps to reduce emissions

Blending hydrogen, and other Renewable Gas, into the natural gas system will reduce emissions

Photo: Trail Historical Society circa Aug. 1, 1924.
Trail Navy Cadets of yore

Check out our Trail Blazers historical feature every Thursday in the Trail Times newspaper

The Trail library has two radon test kits available for loan to patrons with a library card. With Covid restrictions tightening, calling first is advisable. Photo: Trail Times
Radon screening kits available for loan at Trail library

November is National Radon Action Month/Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Email your letters to editor@trailtimes.ca.
Concern over permanent shelter in Trail

Letter to the Editor from P. Crain, Trail

IG
Trail Ferraro Foods recognized for diligence during pandemic

Letter to the Editor from Joslyn Sharp of Trail

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.”
Free ‘Hollywood Suite’ movies in December include ‘Keanussance’ titles starring Keanu Reeves

Also featured is the Israeli-made ‘Valley of Tears,’ a 10-part war drama

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Pfizer announced Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, more results in its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study that suggest the shots are 95% effective a month after the first dose. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

The question of who will get the vaccine first relies on Canada’s ethical framework

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Most Read