Father of accused murderer chides Crown prosecutor
Ben Lemphers/for metro edmonton
Thomas Svekla’s father knew both of his son’s alleged victims and even offered to dump the body of one of them over a bridge if it saved his family name from disgrace, a neighbour told court yesterday.
Stella Verhoef testified that she heard the admissions from George Svekla after his 39-year-old son was arrested in 2006 and he confided in her over the phone and while the two were gardening in their backyards.
She said he had told her about meeting both Rachel Quinney, 19, and Theresa Innes, 36, when his son brought them over to his workplace separately and introduced them as his girlfriends.
But when Svekla’s father took the stand himself yesterday he repeatedly denied that he had ever met Innes or Quinney, saying he never told his neighbour such comments. Court considered him a hostile witness, however, for his unco-operative testimony.
"Here you are trying to put words in my mouth, but it’s not going to work, sir," he shouted at Crown prosecutor Ashley Finlayson during his testimony. "I think I’ve been around a lot longer than you."
His version of events includes telling her he "may" have mentioned that his son had brought various women to his workplace, but he never knew any names or if they were girlfriends.
The judge therefore cannot consider the merits of his neighbour’s comments specifically on the two names because he denied saying it, making her statements technically hearsay.
The neighbour also testified that he told her if he had known about the body he would have helped his son dispose of it, possibly by weighing it down and throwing it off a bridge.
"He had pretty much opened up to me about what happened," she said, explaining that he appeared torn between believing his son had been set up or was actually guilty in both murders. "I was in shock. I was in absolute shock."
The trial will resume today.