Cell records and taxi logs examined in murder trial
BRACEBRIDGE - Caution: This article contains some disturbing content.
Detailed cellphone records and logs of taxi trips were painstakingly examined as part of the Samantha Collins murder trial this week.
Earlier this week, a 12-person jury assigned to the case heard testimony from Kristi Jackson, a manager of law enforcement support with Rogers Communications. Jackson brought with her detailed records of cellphone activity from March 22, 2007, the same month Collins went missing.
The records were from a Rogers client account dating from mid-March to mid-April that year.
“This account was registered to Samantha Collins,” Jackson said.
On the day in question, the records Jackson produced noted a flurry of phone activity beginning in the early morning hours. They including ingoing and outgoing calls and a series of text messages.
Collins’ account, Jackson said, was activated on Sept. 28, 2006, but was cancelled by Rogers on Aug. 27, 2007 after the company noticed the bills were going unpaid. Though Jackson said Rogers keeps records of every phone call or text message made and received through their service, the company does not keep records of what is actually written in text messages.
Collins’ remains were discovered three years later at a Wood Lake cottage. An Orillia man – Ian Charles Borbely – was arrested in connection with her murder in 2011. Just 29 when she died, Collins would have celebrated her 35th birthday earlier this week, on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
After Jackson testified, owners of two local taxi companies found themselves on the witness stand as crown attorney Douglas Kasko painstakingly examined a series of trips made in March 2007.
Jennifer Hoffman, a part-owner of Bracebridge Taxi, pored over company records that show a series of cab trips that either departed from or arrived to addresses in and around the Balls Flats area of Bracebridge. Locations frequently cited include the Wellington Street Tim Hortons and the town’s Your Independent Grocer.
A similar pattern was revealed when Kasko cross-examined cab records produced by Jim Peake, who ran the now-defunct rival Century Taxi company. Both Hoffman and Peake’s cross-examination revealed little information about who the passengers were on those trips. In some cases, time and location information of pickups and dropoffs were missing.
Defense attorney Paul Cooper, however, did draw Peake’s attention to one particular trip on March 27, 2007 which left Bracebridge at 9:42 a.m., destined for Toronto. The trip’s bill was $250.
The court heard that in addition to owning Century Taxi, Peake also doubled as a driver.
“Did you ever meet Samantha Collins?” Cooper asked Peake.
Peake replied that he has no recollection of ever meeting her.
To date, the trial for Borbely has included cross examinations of several police officers who investigated the case. Collins’ remains, the jury heard, were found when a cottage owner on Merrick Drive discovered a wooden crate had mysteriously appeared on his property in July 2010.
A groundskeeper, who was called to the witness stand last week, testified that he then examined the pungent wooden crate and found it lined with plastic inside, and that it contained four pails wrapped in dark green garbage bags. He didn’t investigate the package further, and didn’t learn that the pails contained Collins’ dismembered remains until a police officer arrived on scene to investigate further.
Police have ruled out the cottage owner as a suspect in the case.
Earlier this week, the court heard that Collins was later identified as the victim through both her fingerprints and her trademark tattoos, which Cooper noted her killer had failed to remove.
At the time of the discovery, police had reported that Collins and Borbely were in a relationship at some point in the past. However, a community worker who testified earlier this week said she was not aware of any signs or indications that Borbely was ever physically violent towards Collins.
The trial continues next week.
For continuing updates to the trial, please visit www.cottagecountrynow.ca.
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Defense attorney Paul Cooper, however, did draw Pe