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Toronto officer facing misconduct charges over 2016 McArthur choking arrest asks for independent judge

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A Toronto police officer facing professional misconduct charges in connection to the investigation into serial killer Bruce McArthur is requesting an independent judge hear the case.

In a brief hearing Tuesday morning at Toronto police headquarters, the disciplinary tribunal heard the case of Sgt. Paul Gauthier, who is charged with neglect of duty and insubordination in connection to the McArthur investigation.

Gauthier’s charge stems from a 2016 encounter between the serial killer and Toronto police that came after a man reported McArthur had attempted to strangle him during a sexual encounter. McArthur was arrested but let go with no charges.

Gauthier, a former member of the force’s sex crime unit, was not present at the tribunal. He was represented by Toronto lawyer Lawrence Gridin, who formally requested an independent adjudicator.

“You have no independence from the chief of police,” Gridin told the hearing officer, Toronto police Insp. Richard Hegedus.

Gridin had begun discussing how, in December 2017, police chief Mark Saunders held a press conference denying the existence of a serial killer at work in Toronto’s Gay Village.

“We now know, because this matter’s up in court, and there’s been an agreed statement of facts files, details have come out… that the information at the press conference was not correct.”

But Gridin was interrupted by Toronto police prosecutor Alexandra Ciobotaru, who said Gridin’s comments were not what she was expecting and that initial comments should only pertain to the behaviour of the officer in question.

Gridin replied that he was providing the information to show justification for an independent adjudicator, not a Toronto police hearing officer chosen by Saunders.

Outside the tribunal, the lawyer told reporters that he was confident the evidence will show that the work done by Gauthier contributed to the identification of McArthur as a serial killer, rather than detracted from it.

He stressed that the voices of people giving their victim impact statements as part of McArthur’s sentencing hearings should be heard today, “not mine.”

Gauthier’s matter was scheduled to be heard again later this month.

McArthur went on to kill two other men after the 2016 incident: Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman, both murdered in 2017.

New details about the incident were revealed in Ontario Superior Court Monday during McArthur’s ongoing sentencing hearing. The killer had earlier pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder.

According to a summary of the facts read out in court, the encounter occurred on June 20, 2016, when a victim reported McArthur showed up at his place of work and asked him to meet that evening in his van in a parking lot.

The man did so and reported finding McArthur had removed the seat behind the driver’s seat so that there was room to lie down, revealing a plastic sheet on the floor of the van and a fur coat on top of that.

McArthur asked the victim to lie on the coat and instructed him to put an arm behind his back. Then, “with a look of determination on his face,” he “grabbed the victim’s throat and started strangling him,” Crown lawyer Michael Cantlon said in court Monday.

“What do you want from me,” the victim asked, according to the statement of facts. McArthur did not respond and “continued squeezing the larynx” of the victim, who was unable to swallow properly for a week, Cantlon said.

The victim managed to roll away and escaped the van. He later called 911.

McArthur went to the police station on his own and was arrested, but gave an exculpatory statement, court heard.

“An officer released Mr. McArthur without charges, believing his statement to be credible,” Cantlon said.

In a statement last week, Gauthier’s lawyer said the decision not to charge McArthur for the 2016 incident “was made in conjunction” with Gauthier’s supervisor “and based on the information available at the time.”

“Gauthier conducted a proper investigation and fully documented the arrest of McArthur so that the information was available to all other investigators,” said lawyer Lawrence Gridin.

“McArthur’s monstrous nature was difficult to uncover because he led a life of extreme deception, not because of anything to do with the 2016 arrest … Gauthier has great sympathy for the victims and the community.”

According to police tribunal documents, Gauthier was previously charged with two counts of professional misconduct while he was with the sex crimes unit.

Those charges, which are unrelated to the McArthur case, were ultimately dropped and the matter was dealt with internally.

The police document that outlined the earlier allegations against Gauthier stated that, beginning in July 2011, Gauthier was working with the sex crimes unit when he was investigating a case where he had reasonable and probable grounds to arrest the suspect. Specifically, Gauthier had DNA evidence identifying the alleged perpetrator through a positive link to an offender in the National DNA databank.

But the suspect was never arrested. Five years later, Peel Regional Police arrested the same man for unrelated sexual offences. During the Peel police investigation, it was determined that “the information originally received in 2011, by (Gauthier), was never acted on,” according to police documents.

According to the police document, Gauthier “failed to ensure that a thorough investigation was conducted”; “failed to ensure” the DNA link was acted upon; and “failed to ensure” that the measures were in place for the apprehension of the suspect.

“In so doing, you committed misconduct, in that you did, without lawful excuse, neglect or omit to promptly and diligently perform a duty, as a member of the police force of which you are a member.”

McArthur pleaded guilty earlier this week to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Kinsman, Esen, Lisowick, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam.

With Star files

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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