The quality of justice a Vancouver homicide victim’s family receives apparently depends on who caused the death, according to testimony today at the Frank Paul Inquiry.

Retired VPD detective Doug Staunton said the investigation of a death in police custody is handled differently than a typical homicide case involving civilians. When Vancouver police investigators are investigating a death occurring at the hands of their colleagues, they prepare a “neutral” report for Crown Counsel, rather than a recommendation for charges.

Mr. Staunton also confirmed that investigators departed from usual investigative practice when Frank Paul’s body was discovered, by allowing Cst. Instant, the main officer involved, to attend the death scene, by failing to separate and interview police witnesses and by failing to prepare accurate scene diagrams. He also confirmed that Leonard Doust, QC was called early Sunday morning, December 6, 1998 to provide legal assistance to Cst. Instant, though Instant was not considered a suspect. After meeting with Mr. Doust over two days, Cst. Instant delivered a written statement and was never questioned on why he left Frank Paul in the isolated alley that December night.

Mr. Staunton confirmed that in all of the 11 in-custody death investigations he handled in his career as a VPD homicide investigator, as well as in several dozen other similar cases involving the VPD, charges were not laid after his section’s “neutral” reports were submitted to the Crown.