Cumberland Four

Ontario, Canada
Date of Crime:  January 16, 1990

Robert Stewart, Richard Mallory, Richard Trudel, and James Sauvé were convicted of the murders of 24-year-old Michel Giroux and his 27-year-old pregnant common-law wife, Manon Bourdeau. The victims were shot to death at their home on Queen Street in the Ottawa suburb of Cumberland. Stewart and Trudel were distribution-level drug dealers while Mallory and Sauvé were their enforcers. Giroux was a retail-level drug dealer. According to the Crown, Giroux owed money to Stewart and Stewart ordered his killing as an example to other drug dealers who owed him money.

All four defendants were arrested in Dec. 1990 and charged with the murders. The case against the four was built around the testimony of Denis Gaudreault who allegedly drove the four to the murder scene. The proceedings that followed were the longest and most expensive in Canadian history, costing the government $31 million. The case was a “cash cow” for the legal profession. The CBC unearthed evidence that a lawyer's wife was paid $250,000 to transcribe some court documents. Trudel and Sauvé were convicted in May 1996. Stewart and Mallory were convicted in Feb. 2000. The trials were the first and second longest in Canadian history.

Police had given out false information about the murders to identify false informants. This information was published in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper and Gaudreault identified himself as a false informant by repeating this information to police. Gaudreault subsequently said he drove Trudel and Mallory to the murder scene in a red pick-up truck. Police then located a white Cadillac that Trudel had been driving. It actually belonged to Sauvé, but Trudel had given it to Stewart for repairs. Since Stewart left it at a bar parking lot, and Sauvé was not in the bar, police impounded it as abandoned. They then connected all four defendants to this car. Sauvé had a previous conviction for manslaughter. Thinking Sauvé might be involved, police falsely told Gaudreault that they had a witness who said that Sauvé committed the murders. Gaudreault quickly accommodated this idea and changed his story to say he drove all four defendants to the murder scene in Sauvé's Cadillac. Gaudreault's final version of his story was that he and Stewart remained in the car while Sauvé and the other two entered Giroux's house and committed the murders. Police never found Gaudreault's fingerprints in or on the car. Gaudreault did not possess a driver's license.

Ontario Provincial Police took Gaudreault on a drive to determine the route he took to the murder scene. They videotaped the drive. During the drive, Gaudreault could not find the victims' house, despite driving by it four times. The newspaper had reported the wrong address. Gaudreault then asked officers if they were going the right way. Besides Gaudreault, other informants testified that one or more of the defendants confessed to the crime. Stewart and Mallory began calling themselves the “Monopoly Boys” because all any inmate had to do was testify that they heard a confession and they got a “Get Out of Jail Free” card and lots of cash.

In 2007, the convictions of all four defendants were dismissed and charges were stayed. A judge ruled that the case had been “ravaged over time” and the 16 years of delays – due to adjournments, lack of proper disclosure, lost evidence and witnesses lying under oath – called into question the integrity of the justice system.  [4/08]


References:  National Post, Toronto StarR. v. Mallory, R. v Trudel

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Canadian Cases