Marie Dupe was a 46year old store clerk who was stabbed to death at her store. About 9 years laterthe police could finally find evidence that provided information to find thekiller. A discarded cigarette was found at the scene and the police doubtedGordon Strowbridge who DNA sample matched with the evidence. He had been forcedto give a DNA sample after being convicted of assault in Ontario.
Although thepolice doubted Strowbridge to have committed the crime there was no evidenceagainst him. So the police undertook a Mr Big operation. Undercover police menbefriended him and involved him in a series of minor crimes for easy money.Later he was taken to a hotel where he was told that he would be interviewedfor a higher job with the boss, an undercover police in disguise. With a littleprompting and supervised by a hidden camera, Strowbridge readily admitted tohave committed the murder of the store clerk and pled guilty. Arrested andcharged with murder, Strowbridge ultimately pled guilty to a lesser charge andwas sentenced to life in prison (National DNA Databank, 2004).
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Though thetechnique may seem quite intense, it is an increasingly common method of policeinterrogation. Police interrogation is questioning put to an accused by thepolice with the purpose of eliciting a statement.Interrogation ofsuspects is one of the most imperative stages of police investigation. TheCanadian police are using a moderately intricate non-custodial policeinterrogation technique known as the Mr Big technique. A non-custodial policeinterrogation is a type of interrogation that occurs in an environment wherethe suspect is not deprived of their freedom of movement or freedom of otherkind.This method is used toprovoke the suspects of a crime to confess.
The technique is only used inserious cases due to the high costs involved. It has proven to lead to “75%confession rate” (Gardner 2004). It is however possible that the suspects ofthe crimes may experience pressure and tension and confess to a crime that theydid not commit. There are various motives why suspects admit to crimes they didnot commit. This type of confession where the suspects often denies quicklyafter confession is known as coerced confession. People who confess in thismanner know they are not guilty but confess to escape the situation they are inor to gain some sort of perceived reward. These rewards include promise of jobsor huge amount of money.
These kinds ofinvestigation leading suspects to confess crime they did not commit can proveto be harmful for the person themselves and could have several effects includingtrauma in their future. Hence the purpose of this essay is four-fold. The essaywill explore the nature of the Mr Big technique, following which it willsummarize some Canadian legal cases relevant to Mr Big and confessions.
Theessay will then discuss scientific evidence relevant to Mr Big technique. Theessay will continue by discussing the nature of PEACE technique and scientificevidence related to the technique.Thenature of Mr Big techniqueIt comprises the use ofan undercover police officer to decoy the suspect into linking with a criminalorganisation. Usually undercover officers pretending as members of a gangbefriend the suspect and induce them into joining the criminal organisation.The undercover officersengage the suspects into successions of minor crimes and pay the suspect forthese activities. They also ensure that the suspect believes that they are allpart of a criminal organisation and that they can pay them well enough. Oncethe suspect is dedicated to the criminal organisation, he or she is told by theundercover officers that they are selected for a higher level job that willprovide them several benefits and aids, especially financial aids and jobsecurity. Here the suspect is led to meet Mr Big, the main undercover policewho pretends to be the leader of the criminal organisation.
Nevertheless, beforemeeting the organization’s leader (i.e., Mr Big) and becoming a genuine member,the suspect must agree to have committed a serious crime (the one underinvestigation) for one of a few reasons: as a type of “protection”for the criminal group, so they have something to tell about the suspect in theevent that he ever reports about the organisation to the police. Undercoverofficers provoke the confession, which serves as a stated confession and hencethe police could have a solution to the case and suspect is the convict. Mr bigtechnique is generally reserved for serious cases as the application of thetechnique involves high costs. Though the outline of the technique may be the same,the procedure will vary depending on the case.Legalcases related to Mr Big in CanadaThe Royal CanadianMounted Police (RCMP) has stated that the Mr Big technique has been usedseveral hundred times prior to 2004.
They have also confirmed that it has ledto “75% confession rate and a 95% conviction rate” (Gardner, 2004). Thoughthere is no information about the number of times it has been after 2004, it isevident that it is still very much in practice. Two recent Canadian legal caseswill be discussed that will shed light on how Mr Big technique may besuccessful in obtaining the confessions from suspects and sometimes may alsolead to false confessions. One of the most important cases solved by the Mr Bigtechnique is The Bonisteel case. After bonisteel was suspected to havecommitted the murder of two 14 year old girls, Judy and Elizabeth, police couldnot get an official confession from him. A Mr Big operation was henceundertaken in which Bonisteel was befriended by undercover police officers whoinvolved him in series of minor crimes.
Later he was taken to meet Buck, theleader of the organisation before which he has to confess to any crime that hehas committed. Buck eventually told Bonisteel that a background research doneon him reveals that he has been involved in the murder of the two girls andthat police had forensic evidence against him. Bonisteel eventually confessedto the crime. Another significant case where Mr Big technique has successfullyled to a confession is The Mayer Thorpe RCMP murders. In March of 2005, JamesRoszko shot and murdered four police men in the estate that he owned. He laterbore the gun on himself.
Though it was believed that Roszko acted alone, thepolice men doubted two of his friends Dennis Cheeseman, and Shawn Hennessey tohave helped Roszko. The RCMP used a woman to involve Cheeseman into a criminalorganization. Eventually an undercover Mr Big technique was undertaken. Over 50RCMP officers were active in this operation which included a trip to BritishColumbia to meet Mr Big. Chessman and later Hennessey declared to have assistedRoszko by giving him a ride and a gun when they came to know about his plan tokill the police men.
They were convicted and given prison punishment for murder(Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CBC, 2009a).However Mr Big technique hasnot always been effective. There are several cases where the use of Mr Bigtechnique did not lead to revelation from the suspects and the undercoveroperation failed. These cases include the Kyle Unger case 1992.
Kyle Unger was ayoung innocent man from Manitoba who was found guilty of committing sexualassault and murder in 1992. He even confessed to his crime after an undercoverMr Big technique was targeted on him. Besieged for a Mr Big operation, Ungerwas supported by two undercover police officers who took him out drinking andmade him do all sorts of odd jobs. Once after having him completely drunk theytook him to “Mr Big” who was looking for a person with a good criminalbackground. They made him confess to a crime he did not commit. Even though thedetails of the crime were not correct, Unger was still convicted and tried atcourt. Eventually all charges were dropped against him on the 23rd of October2009.
This clearly portrays how Mr Big technique can sometimes lead to falseconfessions. There is also anothercase that shows how the police interrogation could lead to false confession.The Jason Dix case is one example of the cases that led to false confessionsduring the interrogation. Jason Dix was a prime convict in the murder of twomen in a factory. The police undertook a Mr Big operation where they lured himto an organisation to commit small crimes.
On one particular day, the undercoverpolice staged a killing in front of Dix and told him that now he has somethingagainst the organisation and that they must have some evidence against him ifhe ever turns on them. They asked him to confess to the killing in the paperfactory. Though Dix maintained his innocence, the police concluded that hisparticipation in small crimes provides evidence against him and they arrestedhim.