N.S. man who was charged with mother's murder stuck in legal limbo
Published Tuesday, March 13, 2018 8:08PM ADT
A Nova Scotia man who was charged with his mother’s murder is seeking justice after a so-called Mr. Big sting operation led to an alleged confession he maintains was a lie.
John Buckley was arrested a week after his mother, 57-year-old Victoria Brauns-Buckley, was found dead in her home in Chester Basin, N.S., on March 2, 2012.
“I was 18 but nobody ever talked to me. Nobody ever asked me how I felt,” Buckley tells CTV News. “I was just like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’ No. My mother was just killed, obviously I’m not fine. Could somebody talk to me and explain to me what’s going on?”
Buckley was charged with second-degree murder in his mother’s death, but he says they had a good relationship, and he would never have wanted to hurt her.
“They questioned me. I told them what happened. I told them I was not home,” says Buckley.
“I came home and I found her and I just didn’t, I couldn’t think, you know. I found her, I came in, I went to the other side of the house and I freaked. I couldn’t think right. I didn’t call the police right away and right there is not right. You could interpret that, you know, it looks bad on me.”
The Crown withdrew its case in December 2012, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to obtain a conviction.
Buckley says he tried to pick up the pieces of his life and moved to Montreal for a fresh start. He took some high school courses and hoped to join the military. While looking for work, he says he found something that led him to where he is today.
“Everything was played out really well and it was believable and I believed it down to the last minute,” says Buckley.
He says he first worked in a warehouse and then delivered odd things, like espresso machines. Meanwhile, he was becoming close to his colleagues. Within months, Buckley says he was asked to do things outside the law.
“Them telling me they’d be involved in things worse than murder, you know, just, my mind was running wild,” he says. “So, I was scared to death of these people, so, you know, they never put a gun to my head so they can get away with it.”
It turns out it was an undercover operation by the RCMP to encourage Buckley to confess to murdering his mother, and it came with a price tag of $300,000.
Six months into the Mr. Big sting operation, police say they finally got a confession out of Buckley. According to court documents, they told him they would ensure someone else would take the fall for his mother’s murder.
Buckley was then arrested a second time, in April 2016, and this time he was charged with first-degree murder in his mother’s death.
He pleaded not guilty to the crime and was set to face a jury trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. But the case was dismissed in January after a judge decided the confession obtained by the RCMP through the Mr. Big sting operation was not admissible.
“I’ve done everything I can in the last five years to prove that I’m innocent,” says Buckley.
It has been 53 days since Buckley was released from custody, but he says there’s nothing free about his life today. Now he is seeking justice of his own, saying he would like compensation from the RCMP.
He says he has also approached the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
“I explained everything to them, like what happened, and they just told me they don’t do that and referred me to somebody else,” says Buckley. “The same, with all the lawyers I’ve spoken to, all the civil litigators … a lot of criminal lawyers and they all just referred me down the line to another one and another one and then it just ends with someone saying, ‘Sorry, we can’t help you.’”
CTV News reached out to the RCMP for comment on both Buckley’s case, and on the Mr. Big technique, as well as to ask whether Buckley is the only suspect in his mother’s murder. The RCMP would only say that they “respect the decision of the courts.”
Meanwhile, the Crown has appealed the judge’s decision to toss out the Mr. Big confession. The appeal has been filed, but there’s no date on the docket as to when it will be heard.