Oak Bay police have a suspect in a 10-year-old homicide case, but can’t charge their man.
“Obviously we’re disappointed with the decision, but we completely respect and understand the Crown’s view,” Deputy Chief Kent Thom said, in reaction to a decision from Victoria Crown counsel that manslaughter charges would not be approved against an Oak Bay man.
The suspect, 38, was arrested in March after police re-opened a formerly closed case in the death of Owen Padmore.
Padmore was 31 when he died Dec. 11, 2001. He had been visiting his mother’s house on Hampshire Road the day previous. At one point, he left the house and when he returned, had suffered a head injury. His mother called an ambulance, but Padmore died later at Victoria General Hospital.
Initially, investigators suspected foul play, but a coroner’s report and witness statements at the time resulted in the death being classified as non-suspicious.
Two years ago, someone came forward to police with new information, but those details have never been disclosed.
Oak Bay and Saanich police, as well as RCMP officers, worked with Crown counsellors developing the file.
In March, three people were arrested. Two were released, but charges were recommended against the third, a man who was at the house where Padmore stayed the night before he died. The man has no criminal history, so was not held in police custody, but was forced to surrender his passport and ordered not to travel.
For months, Crown reviewed the file, but the manslaughter charge was not approved .
“The evidence currently available does not support criminal charges at this time,” said Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie.
Asked whether the 10 years that have passed might have diminished the quality of the evidence, Thom said, “The quicker you solve a crime or the quicker you get a matter before the courts, the more likely you will have (a solid case). But we didn’t have this information before.”
The investigation is still underway, he added.
“We know at least one person that’s involved and we’ll continue to (proceed with) this investigation.”
The suspect is not in custody, but Thom said police do not believe the public is at risk. “If there were any public safety concerns, we would take steps to advise the public.”
Police are hoping to rekindle any recollections of Padmore or details of what might have happened Dec. 10, 2001 in order to generate new tips.
“We encourage anyone with information on the death of Owen Padmore to come forward,” Thom said. “Even if it is not relevant … at least we will have exhausted that avenue.”
The public is asked to call 250-592-2424 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.