Monday, October 22, 2012

Mulligan's Inquiry

We are continuing with the story of Vancouver Police Chief, Walter Mulligan. On Friday, I told you how it came to be that his alleged crimes were discovered. Today I will talk about the trial.

The search into the activities of Mulligan were led by a Vancouver lawyer and former head of the faculty of law at UBC, R.H. Tupper. Tupper informed the public he was interested in discovering the truth, not deciding innocence or guilt.

Some of the biggest names in Vancouver journalism were in the courtroom when Mulligan went on trial - Jack Wasserman, Paddy Sherman, Jack Brooks, Dan Ekman, Simma Holt, Jean Howarth and Jack Webster.

Webster had left the Sun - under less than amiable terms - and was now working for the radio station CJOR. He was annoyed that Tupper had banned sound recordings in the courtroom.

Webster was not deterred though. He used a skill he had perfected years ago - shorthand.  He would write out his notes during breaks then go on air at 1pm and relate what had happened in the morning. Every evening he would do a full broadcast from the CJOR station on Howe Street. And he always began it the same way. "This is the full story that was not in the Vancouver Sun today and won't be in the Vancouver Sun tomorrow."

Several seasoned police officers were called as witnesses but the majority of them suddenly developed selective amnesia. One ex-cop, Jack Whelan, recalled a time when he and Mulligan -  Mulligan was an ordinary officer then - had been investigating a break-in at someone's home. Mulligan shoved a glass piggy bank into his pocket and later shared the haul with Whelan. Each officer got $11.

The star witness though Len Cuthbert who was still recovering from his self-inflicted gunshot wound. Cuthbert recited pay offs and splits with Mulligan. An honest cop, Detective Sergeant Bob Leatherdale had not only refused to go along with payoffs but had also reported this activity to the city prosecutor, a judge and McGeer's successor as mayor, Charles Thompson. Yet nothing was done.

An interesting note. During the inquiry, Cary Grant visited Vancouver to promote his film, To Catch a Thief.

Perhaps the most scandalous witness though was the unidentified woman who was the much-married Mulligan's mistress.

This woman - who testified in heavy make-up and a veil - testified that the police chief and she had been together for years. That Mulligan had bought her jewellery  gifts and given her money towards buying a house in Langley. When asked how Mulligan could afford to lavish her so, the mystery woman simply replied "I had the impression it didn't come from his salary."

Mulligan never testified. He had discreetly applied for landed immigrant status in the US and in October of 1955, he asked to be relieved of his duties. In December, he left for the Los Angeles where he got a job as a limousine-bus dispatcher at the airport.
On January 27, 1956, Tupper stated that, with the exception of Cuthbert and Mulligan, he couldn't be sure of anyone else's guilt. He then chided Vancouver for its lax application of the Criminal Code of Canada.

The Attorney General's office ruled that it did not have enough evidence to support Tupper's finding of corruption and would not be taking the case to court.

This meant that Mulligan was never charged and was free to return to Canada, which he did in May of 1963. His wife Violet was with him - she had stood by him through the entire ordeal. When he died in May of 1987, his obit appeared on page 19 of the Vancouver Sun.

Jack Webster, who had been in the courtroom every day for two months, labelled the commission a 'whitewash'. Webster was not a shy man and he is whom I am going to be writing about on Wednesday. Actually, I was going to write on him when I found this information on Mulligan at the website The History of Metropolitan Vancouver.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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1 comment:

  1. Awesome as usual Karen. It's crazy how folks get away with stuff, itsn't it? I love the part about Carry Grant being there to film "To Catch a Thief." A bit poetic, right? Thanks again for all the pictures, they are lovely.