Woman’s homicide in Quebec triggers independent probe of police role

Woman’s homicide in Quebec triggers independent probe of police role

MONTREAL — A Quebec man has been charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of his ex-girlfriend as a police watchdog agency probes the actions of local police in the case.

Anthony Pratte-Lops was arraigned in St-Hyacinthe on Thursday in the death of 18-year-old Daphne Huard-Boudreault and will remain behind bars until the case returns to court April 19.

Huard-Boudreault died in hospital on Wednesday after she was attacked in a home the couple had shared in Mont-St-Hilaire, about 45 kilometres southeast of Montreal.

Pratte-Lops was arrested at the scene.

On Thursday, a judge ordered him to not contact the victim’s parents.

Huard-Boudreault’s work colleagues at a convenience store in nearby Otterburn Park told various media the young woman feared her ex-boyfriend and they said local police weren’t much help to her.

They allege police said they were powerless to act.

Two separate investigations have been launched — a provincial police probe into the slaying and another by Quebec’s bureau for independent investigations into police operations.

Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux told reporters in Quebec City the latter investigation is necessary given the different versions raised in the media about the way local police handled the case.

“I think the (independent police watchdog) should also examine what happened from the point of view of the police,” Coiteux said.

A spokesman for the watchdog group was unable to address reports that a police officer may have accompanied Huard-Boudreault to the home during the noon hour Wednesday when the attack occurred.

But Martin Bonin-Charron said police did meet with Huard-Boudreault earlier Wednesday, without specifying when. From that moment, it is considered an active police operation.

The independent bureau, known by the French acronym BEI, has assigned five investigators to examine the work of officers with the Richelieu Saint-Laurent intermunicipal police force in the events leading to the slaying.

Bonin-Charron said the probe could take a few months.

On Wednesday, two videos were posted to Pratte’s Facebook account of him angrily ranting about the end of a relationship after two years together.

“I wish you all the unhappiness in the world,” he says in one, without mentioning any name. “I hope you are never happy and that you realized there was a guy who loved you and who was ready to do anything for you.”

In the second video he says he hacked a Facebook account and phone to gather information.

Alexis Masse, Huard-Boudreault’s new boyfriend, attended the arraignment and told reporters he felt it necessary to be there.

“I think there are a lot of people who’ve been touched by her and they’ll remember her for a long time,” said Masse, his voice trembling. “We forgive, but we never forget. That’s what I had to say to her.”

Masse said he spoke with the accused by phone shortly before the alleged acts on Wednesday and that Pratte told him he wasn’t at the home.

Masse said they talked for a long time and that he tried to calm Pratte down.

Huard-Boudreault requested a police escort to take her home but it didn’t arrive on time, he said.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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