IQALUIT, NUNAVUT – Several jurors and families of both the victim and the accused burst into tears yesterday after an 11-person jury found Pingoatuk Kolola guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of RCMP Constable Douglas Scott in Kimmirut, Nunavut, in November 2007.
“This is probably the saddest case I’ve ever had to deal with,” defence lawyer Andy Mahar told reporters after the verdict was read. “A family lost a lovely young man. Another family lost a father [of] six kids. All for a moment of basically pointless violence, and there’s just no happy ending to this for anybody.”
The jury reached a verdict after nearly four days of deliberations. As the jury was led out of the courtroom, several members could be heard wailing in sorrow as they walked down the hall.
The jury was given the choice between convicting Kolola of first-degree murder or on the lesser charge of manslaughter.
“We can be confident that justice was done in the case. The verdict represents the position taken by the Crown and we’re satisfied,” said Crown prosecutor Susanne Boucher.
Kolola is scheduled to appear for sentencing this morning. First-degree murder carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment with no parole eligibility for 25 years.
Const. Scott was killed while trying to apprehend Kolola following a domestic dispute with his common-law wife. Const. Scott approached the accused’s truck, which had become stuck. Kolola told the court he fired the shot that killed Scott from his hip, holding the rifle with his right hand and cradling his eight-month old son in his left.
At a news conference yesterday afternoon in Iqaluit, Marla Scott, Const. Scott’s mother, said she was pleased with the verdict.
“Although it will never replace the loss of Dougie, it is a comfort to know that the person responsible has been held accountable to the extent of the law,” she said. “It is our hope that this [verdict] will serve as a strong statement to those who put so little value in the life of a fellow human being.”
Kolola showed little emotion during the trial, apart from brief flashes of a smile directed to members of his family. His stoicism didn’t sit well with Douglas Scott Sr., Const. Scott’s father.
“The toughest part was when he [Kolola] sat there so calmly and didn’t show any emotion or regret,” he said.
Const. Scott’s family remembered Doug as a competitive person who pushed himself to achieve and who was embracing life in the small hamlet of Kimmirut – on the southern tip of Baffin Island.
RCMP Superintendent Steve McVarnock said the verdict “does not bring any joy to anyone in this room.”
He said Const. Scott’s murder was devastating for the young officer’s family, his colleagues, the community of Kimmirut and for Kolola and his family. “There are no winners,” he said. “And there’s nothing that the court can do that is going to mitigate that sting. We can’t bring Doug back.”