WILBERT COFFIN’S BROTHER DONALD TESTIFIES BEFORE THE BROSSARD COMMISSION (CONTINUED)
EXTRAITS DU TÉMOIGNAGE DE DONALD, LE FRÈRE DE WILBERT COFFIN, DEVANT LA COMMISION BROSSARD : PAGE 3151 ET SUIVANTES DES TRANSCRIPTIONS DE LA COMMISSION
EXCERPTS FROM THE TESTIMONY OF DONALD, WILBERT COFFIN’S BROTHER BEFORE THE BROSSARD COMMISSION: FROM PAGE 3151 AND FOLLOWING OF THE COMMISSION’S TRANSCRIPTS
Province of Québec INQUIRY COMMISSION INTO
THE COFFIN AFFAIR
District of Québec
PRESENT: THE HONOURABLE ROGER BROSSARD, J.S.C.
On the 20th day of May 1964, came and appeared:
DONALD FRANCIS COFFIN, welder, domiciled at York Centre, Gaspé, Province of Québec, aged 41, who is being duly sworn upon the Holy Evangelists, doth depose and say:
EXAMINED by Mr. JULES DESHÊNES, Q.C.,
Legal Counsel to the Commission:
A. … yes, I seen him the time that he was up, when this all happened, I seen him I think, twice around that time.
Q. When you say “around that time”, that would be within what period of time?
A. Within a week before he left.
Q. You saw him twice within the week before he left?
A. That’s right.
Q. Did you also see him in the two or three or four previous weeks?
A. Well, I used to see him at that time, I was working in a welding shop, I used to seem him a couple of times a week.
Q. Weren’t you prospecting with him, toward the beginning of June?
A. Not at that time, the first week, I suppose, the first part of June, and I went to work with another of my brother in a welding shop.
Q. In any event, you would have seen him at least once a week, and probably a couple of times in the week immediately before he left?
Q. Would you remember in what state he appeared to be, especially in the last week, before he left?
A. Well, he looked… what exactly do you mean, sir?
Q. I am just asking you whether… I will go direct to it: whether you would not have found that he had been drinking quite heavily, during that week?
A. Not heavily, but I would say he had been drinking, sir.
Q. Would you know over what period of time that would have been going on?
A. … no, I couldn’t say exactly what period of time.
Q. Would it have been a matter of days or weeks?
A. It might have been days, but I wouldn’t say: weeks.
Q. Would it not have been as long as a month and a half, before he left for Montréal?
A. No sir.
Q. You are positive about that?
A. Quite positive, yes.
Q. So, it would have been for what period of time?
A. …..well, say…a week.
Q. A week?
A. A week, I could be sure.
Q. How could you see that?
A. Well, because he was still… he was still prospecting there, and him and Mr. Angus MacDonald had already been up there, one trip, so we were helping buy the supplies, they were still partners, and they had been up, but Mr. MacDonald, he was quite an elderly man, he couldn’t get around in the bush. So, the second time that he went up, he told me he was going up alone, he had quite a distance to walk, and he thought he could get there a lot faster and back out by himself, rather than have Mr. MacDonald with him.
Q. That’s all quite interesting, Mr. Coffin, but I don’t think that’s exactly the point to the question I was putting to you. You told me that you knew, at the time, that your brother had been drinking some for about a week?
Q. What I am asking from you is: how would you know that? How would that appear to anybody meeting Wilbert at the time?
A. Well, how do you know if anybody has been drinking? You could smell the whisky on him but it didn’t get me, the smell.
Q. Is that the way you came to know that your brother had been drinking for about a week?
Q. By the smell of his breath?
A. Because I had seen him in that last week more than twice, I had seen him, I don’t know how many times; maybe four or five times.
Q. Maybe four or five times. So, nearly everyday?
A. Nearly everyday. I used to see him then, when he was prospecting in the bush.
Q. Well, was it only then the smell of his breath that told you that he had been drinking, during that week?
A. Yes, because he was quite normal, otherwise.
Q. You knew, I suppose, at the time, sergeant Doyon of the Provincial Police?
A. I knew him to see him yes.
Q. Well, isn’t it a fact that he actually had some discussions or an interview with you while he was investigating the disappearance of the American hunters?
A. Yes, he came to see me.
Q. He came to see you?
Q. So, he discussed with you, I suppose, the whereabouts of your brother, I suppose?
A. Yes, he wanted to know if I knew where he was.
Q. I am going to quote to you from a report of sergeant Doyon, report which he made on August 20th, 1953, in that very summer.
A. Yes sir.
Q. August 20th 1953, and I am freely translating, but this is the substance of his report. It is drafted in French. Do you read French, Mr. Coffin?
A. No, sir, I don’t.
Q. You don’t. So, I am going to translate, to the best of my ability, and here is what Mr. Doyon writes:
“I recently learned from Donald Coffin, brother of Wilbert, and this, quite recently, that Wilbert had been drinking for about a month and a half before the arrival of the three American hunters. And while he was in that state, Donald added that Wilbert was a very wild guy, to the extent that his brother had to keep watch over him; because, as Donald said, Wilbert then could do anything, and that, since his return from overseas, where he had been at the front for five years.”
A. That is a downright lie.
Q. You say that is a downright lie. Did you say that the whole of what I have read to you is a downright lie?
A. As far as being me telling him that, yes.
Q. So, if I take that back, part by part, if I may say, the first part of Mr. Doyon’s report is that you told him that your brother had been drinking for a month and a half before the arrival of the three American hunters?
A. In the first place, I didn’t know what time the American hunters had arrived in Gaspé, and I certainly anything like that. (sic)
Q. Did you tell, however, Mr. Doyon, that your brother might have been drinking for about a week before he left for Montréal?
A. I probably did, yes.
Q. You probably did. What about the balance of the report? Did you tell Mr. Doyon that in that state your brother was a very wild guy?
A. No sir.
Q. You didn’t use that expression?
A. No sir.
Q. I draw your attention to the fact that in this French written report, Mr. Doyon quotes that in English “very wild guy”.
Q. Although you have used that very expression yourself?
A. No sir.
Q. You did not?
A. No sir.
Q. Are you positive about that?
A. Quite positive.
Q. Have you spoken to Mr. Doyon about the fact that your brother was subject to being kept watch over since his return from overseas?
Q. That he had to be watched by his brothers since his return from overseas?
A. I never said any such thing, sir.
Q. So, the whole of this paragraph is, according to you, a complete lie?
A. That’s right, sir.
Q. All right. Now, I am going to show to you, Mr. Coffin, another document which has been filed before this Commission as exhibit number 18. Will you take your time, read it through, and tell us if you recognize that statement?
A. ….that’s right, I wrote that, sir.
Q. You wrote it, you said?
A. That’s right.
Q. Did you write it from the very beginning to the end?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did anybody dictate that statement to you?
A. No sir.
Q. Could you explain to us under what circumstances you wrote that statement which is dated December 31st 1953?
A. No, I couldn’t be sure of the date, because it is a long time ago, but sergeant Doyon came to my house, and he asked me had I ever – about the facts that is in there. I said I would write it down and send them to him, and that’s what I done.
Q. So you wrote the statement?
A. I wrote the statement and sent it to him.
Q, Well then, I would like to hear the story from you own mouth, Mr. Coffin. The events, which you are referring to in that statement, happened according to you and I am quoting: “During the preliminary hearing of my brother Wilbert Coffin”; end of quote. So, could you tell us exactly what happened during the preliminary hearing of your brother?
A. I will have to try and say it in my own words.
Q. Do, please.
(LE TÉMOIN RACONTE COMMENT IL A AIDÉ RAYMOND MAHER, L’AVOCAT DE SON FRÈRE WILBERT, ET SON ASSISTANT JEAN-GUY HAMEL À ENLEVER LA CARABINE DU CAMP DE WILBERT.)
(THE WITNESS TELLS HOW HE HELPED COFFIN’S LAWYER RAYMOND MAHER AND HIS ASSISTANT JEAN-GUY HAMEL REMOVE THE RIFLE FROM HIS BROTHER WILBERT’S CAMP.) POUR LIRE CE DOCUMENT, CLIQUEZ SUR LES IMAGES CI-DESSUS - CLICK ON THE ABOVE PICTURES TO READ THAT DOCUMENT.