Former Main Street Church executive pastor John Vermeer’s trial for child pornography started July 23, 2019 but was delayed until January 2020.

Former Main Street Church executive pastor John Vermeer’s trial for child pornography started July 23, 2019 but was delayed until January 2020.

TOP STORIES 2019: Big names in court in Chilliwack in 2019

A former city councillor, an MLA’s constituency assistant, a church pastor, and a Rotarian

From prolific offenders to known gang associates to low-level petty criminals, there are some names seen over and over, week after week at the courthouse.

But a few criminal cases stood out on the docket, and proved particularly newsworthy in 2019. Two alleged incidents of white collar crime received a lot of ink, as did two child pornography cases, one that resulted in a not guilty verdict, the other unresolved.

Topping the list of high-profile names at the Chilliwack Law Courts in 2019 is undoubtedly Sam Waddington. The former city councillor who ran for mayor in 2018, was on the hot seat for months over expenses from 2017 while he was in office.

Brushed off by some as the machinations of a political foe, namely former mayor Sharon Gaetz who filed a freedom of information (FOI) request and who ran against him for the top spot on council, the accusations proved to be fruitful enough for the RCMP to hand over to Crown counsel to consider trials.

And two years after the first accusations surfaced, Waddington was charged with two counts of breach of trust by public officer. His case is still before the courts, next date is Jan. 14.

• READ MORE: Former Chilliwack city councillor charged with breach of trust over expense claims

Then there was the case of MLA John Martin’s constituency assistant who, in March 2017, was fired by Martin after the MLA discovered tens of thousands of dollars missing from his constituency office bank account.

After two-and-a-half months of not reporting the name most people knew, special prosecutor Robin McFee approved criminal charges against 29-year-old Desmond Michael Devnich.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack MLA’s former constituency assistant charged with fraud, breach of trust

Devnich is charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 and two counts of breach of trust by a public officer. He is next due in court Jan. 21.

Two child pornography cases against unlikely individuals garnered significant headlines in 2019.

Sixty-two-year old Ian Robert Meissner faced five child pornography charges from back in 2016, charges that took more than two years to come to trial. Meissner was a past director of the Chilliwack Arts Council, past president of the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board, and president of one of the Chilliwack Rotary Clubs.

Also a photographer who shared tens of thousands of images on file sharing networks, Meissner said he did not know how four or five images that constituted child pornography got on his computer.

• READ MORE: Prominent Chilliwack realtor says he doesn’t know how child porn got on his computer

In the end, a BC Supreme Court justice agreed there was reasonable doubt that Meissner knew he even had the images on his computer, and he was acquitted.

• READ MORE: All child porn charges against Chilliwack realtor dismissed

The Chilliwack church pastor facing child pornography charges was another shock to the community. John (Johannes) Vermeer is charged with downloading child pornography on to computers at Main Street Church on two separate occasions.

Vermeer’s case, however, has been mired in technical matters and legal controversy. The trial began on July 23 and was scheduled for eight days, at least. But the issues over a missing hard drive and computer log disclosure has delayed the trial into the new year.

The case is due to resume Jan. 9, with four days in January, two in February and two in March.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Ian Meissner exits the Chilliwack Law Courts with supporters and his legal counsel Martin Finch on March 21, 2019 after having all charges relating to child pornography dismissed. (Jessica Peters/ Progress file)

Ian Meissner exits the Chilliwack Law Courts with supporters and his legal counsel Martin Finch on March 21, 2019 after having all charges relating to child pornography dismissed. (Jessica Peters/ Progress file)

Desmond Devnich, former constituency assistant to Chilliwack MLA John Martin, is charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 and two counts of breach of trust. (LinkedIn)

Desmond Devnich, former constituency assistant to Chilliwack MLA John Martin, is charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 and two counts of breach of trust. (LinkedIn)

Ending some online speculation, Coun. Sam Waddington confirmed in June he would be running for mayor in the October municipal election. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Ending some online speculation, Coun. Sam Waddington confirmed in June he would be running for mayor in the October municipal election. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Ottawa serial killer Camille Joseph Cleroux died of natural causes at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution on Sunday.
Serial killer housed at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution dies of natural causes

Camille Joseph Cleroux announced dead on Sunday, known as notorious Ottawa serial killer

A child joins the Uke ‘n Play kickoff event at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Events return, in virtual form, at Fraser Valley Regional Library

People can take part in ukulele jam, bullet journaling, reading groups and more

This urn was found Jan. 4 at a Yale Road bus stop and has now been returned to its owner. (RCMP photo)
RCMP find custodian of urn that was left at Chilliwack bus stop

Police say the urn contained the remains of a family’s cat

Garry Blanchard of Hope won $77,000 correctly guessing the outcomes of all 13 games of NFL week 17. (Photo/BCLC)
Hope resident rakes in $77,000 in NFL Week 17 bet

Garry Blanchard won the record-breaking prize correctly guessing every outcome that week

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Chilliwack ER doc runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Greater Vancouver business organization says members face uncertain outlook in 2021

Many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021

A handgun seized by Surrey RCMP. (Photo: Police handout)
Crime Stoppers received 500+ tips about Metro Vancouver guns, gang activity in 2020: report

Metro Vancouver organization ‘urging local residents to keep providing anonymous tips’

Most Read