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Police assault trial hears tearful voice message

The judge also heard more about the bonfire the officers attended earlier in the night
2016-05-08 Janes Walk DMH-14
The Sault Ste. Marie Court House is pictured in this file photo. Donna Hopper/SooToday

A voice mail message that city police Const. Jarrott Forsyth left a colleague shortly after an altercation he had with a female officer in the early morning hours of Aug. 27, 2016 was played in court Thursday. 

Upset and crying, he said that he had "knocked out Roachie" and asked Det. Const. John Boyle to call him.

The message was sent about 3:20 a.m. on Aug. 27, but Boyle, the third Crown witness to take the stand at Forsyth's assault trial, said he didn't hear it until 8:21 a.m.

He told assistant Crown attorney Kaely Whillans that initially he wanted to think it was a joke "but I could tell by his voice he was really upset."

"Something happened. I thought they got in a fight," said Boyle, who grew up in the same neighbourhood as Forsyth and has known him for 25 years.

Forsyth has pleaded not guilty to assaulting Det. Const. Melanie Roach and her girlfriend Lindsay Palmer, in connection with an incident that occurred when both officers were off duty.

Boyle said he contacted his supervisor. "I guess I felt obligated to call because of my job."

Ontario Court Justice Richard A. Humphrey heard Boyle had been at a bonfire earlier that evening, along with Forsyth and the complainants, at the home of fellow city police officers.

The atmosphere was initially laid back, but became charged after a conversation between two people about running, or something, and who was fastest, he said.

Roach stated "It's not about how fast you can run, but how hard you can hit," Boyle said, adding she stood up and said she'd take anyone on.

He described Roach as "a little aggressive." She had obviously been drinking and was slurring her words.

Boyle said he left the gathering shortly afterwards, around 12:15 a.m.

During cross examination by defence counsel Bruce Willson, Boyle indicated he had given a further statement to investigators last week about a phone conversation he had with Forsyth.

He said when he was heading home he noticed Forsyth, who had left the party earlier, driving back there.

Boyle said he called Forsyth and asked what he was doing. "He told me someone had contacted him, that Mel was acting up and he was heading back to give her a ride home."

Wilson wondered why he had then wished Forsyth good luck.

"Did it relate to her belligerent state at the party? "Willson asked.

"It could have been, yes," the witness replied.

Roach testified Wednesday that Forsyth drove her and Palmer home after the party and asked to come in for a beer.

She said an altercation erupted after Forsyth cornered her girlfriend in the kitchen and attempted to kiss her.

A verbal confrontation became physical, with pushing and shoving.

"I'm not sure if I hit him first or he hit me first," she said, but they exchanged punches.

Roach said she struck Forsyth in the head and he "hit me square in the mouth area."

Willson spent most of Thursday morning cross-examining Palmer, Roach's girlfriend, who was on the witness stand Wednesday.

Palmer testified that Forsyth had grabbed her and thrown her into a wall when she stepped in between him and Roach, yelling "what are you doing, you just hit a girl in the face."

Referring to a statement Palmer had given police, Willson noted she had indicated Forsyth "threw me out of the way."

He did that because you were trying to stop the altercation, Roach was still trying to punch him, and he pushed you back out of the way, Willson told her.

When she replied no, he suggested "you're making it up as you go along," and she retorted "That's not true."

Palmer said she recalled Forsyth yelling at her, to get her shoes because they were leaving. 

"I said 'Are you crazy, I'm not going with you.'"

Willson maintained that Forsyth was trying to get her to a safe place, away from Roach, but Palmer said she didn't know what he was taking about and she didn't want to go.

"If you left there would be hell to pay when you got home, that's why you didn't want to go," he said.

"That's not true," she said. 

Palmer denied that she and Roach had argued when her girlfriend wanted to go back to the party.

"Mel decided she was going back to the party, hell or high water and you were pleading with her to just go to bed . . . she stormed out mad and you were crying when she left," Willson said.

"That's not true," she insisted.

Palmer told the court Wednesday that Forsyth had made a sexual advance towards her, had backed her into a corner and kissed her neck.

Forsyth did that out of the blue, knowing her girlfriend would be there in seconds, Willson questioned, suggesting that it sounded bizarre and not logical.

Right, Palmer conceded, but said it was true.

The defence offered that Forsyth was concerned about her, and all he was doing was giving her a hug.

When Roach came in "mad," he was trying to explain what had happened, and "all hell broke out," he said.

Palmer disagreed that her partner was enraged, insisting Roach was confused when she confronted Forsyth, and that she hadn't started hitting him as he was leaving.

"That's not what happened," she said.

Willson also honed in on the amount of alcohol Palmer had consumed that night.

Palmer said she had two beers before going to the bonfire, had five or six there snd two more after they returned home.

She agreed that was a lot of beer, but rejected the suggestion that she was "pretty drunk."

"I wouldn't say so," she told Willson.

The Crown concluded its case Thursday. The trial continues Monday. 

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About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 45 years.
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