The goal was to make it look as though Doe had been shot in the back of the head, with the bullet emerging from the side of his face. Animal blood was sprinkled around Doe’s head as he lay in the snow and a blood-stained iron bar was placed nearby to make it look like he was clubbed prior to being shot. The crime scene expert decided fake blood would not look convincing, so the Mounties brought along animal blood and had a doctor draw several small vials of blood from Doe to splash on his mouth, face and neck. “It was perfect,” says Sgt. Toews, “except that Doe was alive.”
The police officers snapped some Polaroids of Doe and 20 minutes later everyone headed back to Edmonton. “Doe was getting pretty cold, but he never complained,” recalls Sgt. Toews. “I wondered what was going through his mind, if it hit home that if Daemore had approached anyone other than our guy, he could have been laying out there for real.”
The ruse worked. Two weeks ago, 51-year-old Daemore pleaded guilty to charges of counselling to commit murder, trafficking in cocaine and possession of the proceeds of crime and was sentenced to six years in jail. He was also forced to forfeit $40,000 cash and $1 million worth of commercial property, including Century Billiards, stocks and the contents of several foreign bank accounts.
The conviction capped a four-year joint investigation involving the RCMP, Canada Customs and the Edmonton Police Service. Late in 1991, officers Toews and Travanut began checking allegations that Daemore, not yet involved in Century Billiards, was dealing cocaine. “We looked into his net worth,” says Sgt. Toews. Since he did not have a legitimate job, the “money we found would have had to come from drug trafficking.” They discovered Daemore was running a complicated money-laundering scheme, depositing funds in a Bermuda bank which was then funnelled through accounts in London and Germany and into a trust account in the Channel Islands off the French coast. Using a numbered Alberta company and an alias, Daemore would then borrow back the money.
In the late 1980s, Daemore gained an interest in Century Billiards from John Doe as payment for a substantial cocaine debt. By 1990, Daemore had bought out Century’s other partners and owned the club through another numbered company, which he registered in the names of his three children, who are all under 18. Things went from bad to worse for Doe when police arrested him with drugs in 1993; he offered to shed light on Daemore’s business dealings for a better deal from prosecutors. That helped the RCMP charge Daemore in January 1995 with drug trafficking, money laundering and possession of a false passport.
A 1991 Supreme Court of Canada decision enabled Daemore to discover the identity of Doe, the chief witness against him. Five years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that crown lawyers erred in the embezzlement case of former Calgary lawyer William Stinchcombe when they failed to hand over an RCMP interrogation tape that might have weakened their case to the defence. The Supreme Court ruled that all prosecution evidence must be handed over to defence counsel. As a result, Doe’s statement to police was given to Daemore’s lawyers in the spring of 1995 with his real name at the top of the page. A few months later, Daemore ordered the hit.
The night of January 2, after the assassination had been staged, the undercover cop-acquaintance of Daemore, known as Agent X, walked into the trafficker’s Century Billiards office wearing a surveillance wire and handed him Doe’s driver’s license and the grisly photos. “You’re serious, you really did it!” Daemore exclaimed in astonishment. “I didn’t think you were really going to do it. I can’t believe you really did it.” Then he took the license and photo, lit them on fire and flushed them down the toilet in his office washroom. Later that night, he met Agent X to give him the remaining $9,000 payment.
Agent X spent the next two days arresting every Edmonton drug dealer he had been buying from because his cover would be blown once Daemore was arrested. On the night of January 4, Sgt. Toews and his partner walked into Century and stood at the table where Daemore sat. “He’d dealt with us before and he knew who we were,” says Sgt. Toews. “He just stared at us without saying anything. Daemore knew his rights, but by then we didn’t need a confession anyway.”