News Item: Firebomb suspect planned escape from city, trial told
(Category: Blue GANG News)
Posted by MJF
Wednesday 07 June 2006 - 10:55:09

The Ottawa Citizen

Gary Dimmock,
Published: Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Randy Parish, the accused ringleader of a 2004 firebombing that killed two children, toured the outskirts of Ottawa four days before the killings, looking for the best escape from the city, court heard yesterday.

"He said he was looking for the easiest way out of Ottawa because people were going to do some stupid things for him," a witness testified yesterday at the first-degree murder trial of Mr. Parish, 28, Tom McDowell, 28, and Gus Salah, 24

Yet the witness, testifying for the prosecution, admitted on the stand that he had a habit of lying, even to police.

The witness also told court about the time he accepted $250 to get his little brother, then a teenager, to sleep over at Mr. Parish's Vanier apartment -- even though he had heard allegations that Mr. Parish was a pedophile.

The name of the witness cannot be published in order to protect the identity of another person whose identity is under a publication ban.

The testimony builds on the prosecution's theory that Mr. Parish is a pedophile who paid enforcers $7,000 to kill Cindy Rodgers for fear she would keep trying to expose his secret life as a man who preyed on underprivileged boys in Ottawa's west end.

Ms. Rodgers escaped the fire, but her two children, Chelsea, 10, and Cole, 7 -- trapped in an upstairs bedroom of their public housing unit -- died.

The witness also placed Mr. Salah, one of the three accused, outside a store during a key exchange of tools allegedly used in the Jan. 30 firebombing.

Yet under cross-examination by Mr. Salah's lawyer, Neil Weinstein, the witness acknowledged he didn't really know what Mr. Salah looked like.

Earlier, under questioning by the prosecution, the witness actually pointed to another man in the prisoner's box instead of Mr. Salah.

"I don't know the guy," the witness later agreed under cross-examination.

Under questioning by Mr. Weinstein, the witness admitted he not only lied to police, but had a habit of drafting stories from thin air.

Mr. Weinstein quickly established that anything the witness heard about Mr. Salah came from Mr. Parish.

Under cross-examination, the witness maintained that he believed all tales Mr. Parish told him -- including one that had him running guns for the Hells Angels.

The witness maintained that he believed Mr. Parish's story that he was selling a $151,000 shipment of guns for the biker gang.

Mr. Weinstein then referred the witness to a statement he gave to homicide Det.-Sgt. Rick Hayman, just days after the firebombing.

At that time, the detective, upon hearing about the gun-running, said: "And you believed him?"

Then, as the jury heard yesterday, Mr. Weinstein led the witness back to his February 2004 statement to police, which recorded that the witness responded: "No. I didn't believe it. I thought he was full of it."

The lawyer also highlighted that the witness had accepted $250 from Mr. Parish to get his younger brother to sleep over at the accused's apartment, even after he had heard allegations he was a pedophile.

"Didn't it strike you as odd or wrong? the lawyer questioned.
No," the witness replied.

"You must have really wanted the 250 bucks," the lawyer said.

Under questioning from James Harbic, the defence lawyer for Mr. Parish, the witness admitted he had lied to police in the past, in particular that he shared a joint with Ms. Rodgers and a 14-year-old boy.

The witness also admitted under Mr. Harbic's questioning that in all the time he had spent with Mr. Parish, doing nothing other than drinking coffee at Tim Hortons and driving around town, he never felt uncomfortable about the accused.

The witness also agreed that he didn't believe Ms. Rodgers' story about Mr. Parish being a pedophile.

The trial resumes today at the Elgin Street courthouse with Justice Roydon Kealey presiding.


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