The Gazette (Montreal)

Who is stalking whom?

Trial over, verdict is up to the judge. Homosexual accusers have been doing a lot of the harassing, defence lawyer argues

SUE MONTGOMERY
The Gazette
Saturday, November 09, 2002
Montreal Gazette

It's like The Boy Who Cried Wolf - no one believes Theo Wouters any more.

He is a man obsessed with a deep-rooted belief that not only is his next-door neighbour homophobic, but the entire world is as well.

He is argumentative. He indulges in tirades and personal opinions. He is a man who believes a general conspiracy is afoot and he is at war with all his neighbours.

So says defence lawyer Michel Leclerc, who, with that damning declaration, brought to a close a chapter in the long, sad, Kafkaesque tale of a homosexual couple accusing their neighbour Bob Walker of homophobia.

Walker is charged with assault and harassment, but it is Wouters who is doing the harassing, Leclerc claimed during closing arguments yesterday.

And Wouters, along with his partner, Roger Thibault, has compiled a long list of enemies.

Their complaints encompass "anybody who stands in their way," including neighbour Greg Inglis, former Pointe Claire mayor Bill McMurchie, Marcelle Arcand of the Human Rights Commission, Walker's defence lawyers, Montreal police, Det.-Sgt. Robert Claude, "the only police officer who actually ran alongside them from the outset," The Gazette and yours truly.

For two years, Wouters and Thibault photographed and videotaped Walker, and eventually succeeded in getting a restraining order that prevented him from going into a 20-foot forbidden zone on his own property.

"Mr. Walker becomes public enemy No. 1," Leclerc said.

"Mr. Wouters wants to dictate where Mr. Walker will sit, stand, walk and mow the lawn on his own property."

During the Crown's closing arguments, Judge Jean Falardeau was showing signs of exasperation as he has throughout the trial, often rolling his eyes and shaking his head.

Prosecutor Isabelle Gélinas admitted the entire scene of neighbours photographing and videotaping each other, and Wouters and Thibault filing numerous complaints, seemed ridiculous at times.

"But you have to look at the accumulation of incidents" that creates an emotional response, she said.

Citing jurisprudence, Gélinas described a case in which the accused watched the complainants continually, recorded visitors' license-plate numbers and videotaped the complainants' residence from her own residence.

That sounds a lot like what Wouters has been up to for the past two years, Leclerc replied.

In the end, the question is: Who is stalking whom?

Wouters and Thibault called the police, complaining Walker had violated his restraining order when he was coincidentally in the same magazine store, the same commuter train and the same grocery store as they were. They called the police when they found him selling hot dogs at a fundraiser in a supermarket parking lot.

The couple had no witnesses and there were numerous contradictions in Wouters's testimony. (Thibault was apparently too ill to testify.)

Asked to explain contradictions in statements filed with the Quebec Human Rights Commission, Wouters replied that Thibault had written them.

"Picture this," Leclerc told the court. "Here is an individual who does not read statements before signing them, at the risk of ruining the life of a man."

Wouters has no credibility, Leclerc charged.

Wouters and Thibault are two grown men who have used the judicial system to subdue a man who had enjoyed his property until petty complaints about a dog barking, kids playing and a compost bin turned his life upside down.

For 21/2 years, Walker remained quiet about the allegations against him.

He has been maligned in news reports and during a demonstration in the park near his house by people who were showing their support for Wouters and Thibault.

He has finally had his say.

Now it's up to the judge to deliver a verdict Nov. 26.

smontgomery@thegazette.southam.ca

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