Here is another excerpt from the Brossard report that I invite you to read, titled GENERAL CONCLUSIONS ON JEEPS AND THE INACCURACIES COMMITTED BY JACQUES HÉBERT.
In the course of the following weeks, I shall reproduce for you Chapter 2 titled THE CRITIQUES, that is, the authors Belliveau and Hébert and Henri Doyon, Jacques Hébert’s private detective. Mention is also made of SOURCES to which they drew their inspiration to write their books, that is : THE USELESS SOURCES and THE SOURCES OF INFORMATION (Jacques Hébert drew his inspiration from John Edward Belliveau’s book (The Coffin Murder Case) and from articles from the Toronto Daily Telegram and The Toronto Evening Star and also from investigations made by the ex-sergeant Henri Doyon, etc.) AND ANOTHER LIST OF ERRORS AND INACCURACIES FOUND IN THE BOOKS OF BELLIVEAU AND HÉBERT.) Given the length of this chapter, I will present this part of the Brossard Report in four different postings;
IN THE MEANTIME, FOR A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW, I SUGGEST THAT YOU HAVE A PEEP AT MR. LEW STODDARD’S BLOG:
REPORT OF THE BROSSARD ENQUIRY COMMISSION IN THE COFFIN AFFAIR (27TH NOVEMBER) VOL. 1 CHAPTER 5 ( PART XVI)
GENERAL CONCLUSIONS ON JEEP
The chapter on « jeeps » that ends is assuredly the longest of this report; we elaborated at length on this subject for the following reasons :
a) It concerns the main mean on which Coffin relied in his statements to the police as well as in his affidavit, to divert suspicion, to wit : the presence near the hunters, on the 10th of June 1953, of a jeep with American licence plates and occupied by Americans;
b) The absence of proof of the presence of an American jeep that Coffin might have seen was one of the main elements considered by the justices of our appeal courts;
c) The authors Belliveau and Hébert, particularly the latter one, inspired, without doubt, by the importance of what we just mentioned, but probably without realizing that the proof of the possible presence of American jeeps, without a direct link being established between this presence and the jeep Coffin pretended having seen, would have at the most constituted a negative circumstantial evidence. They devoted several pages of their respective books and reported facts more than often inaccurate and false than accurate as to the access roads in the Gaspé peninsula, as to the presence of tracks of jeep wheels on the interior roads and closed on the interior forest (without, however, ascertaining that these pretended tracks had been made by American jeeps rather than by Canadian jeeps) and as to the presence of jeeps driven by Americans that could not be linked to those whose mention appeared in the in and out of the woods record.
Without doubt, in a country where numerous jeeps circulate, driven by Murdochville mine employees, game and fish keepers, prospectors in the area and other inhabitants of the Gaspé peninsula, jeep tracks might have been seen at the time of the crimes, but, as we have seen, there were no jeep tracks in the surroundings of the abandoned pick-up truck and on the road going through the area where the remains of the victims were found.
Of course, a good number of Gaspésiens have seen or thought having seen a jeep whose passengers might have been Americans, sometimes, on a car ferry at about 500 miles from the area where the crimes were committed, sometimes, at a time where Dr. Burkett was driving in the bush, sometimes, more than two months and a half after this time, but what is essential to remember, it is that in most cases, the jeep and its occupants of this jeep that was described to us looked like Dr. Burkett’s jeep and its occupants, that in no case, any link, the least certain, could be made between any of the jeeps thus seen and the jeep described by Coffin in vague terms and not in the least uniform in his statements, not less between the contradictory descriptions that Coffin had given of its occupants and the multiple statements not less contradictory made by witnesses.
Let us summarize rapidly what the proof, that has been submitted, has established in each case where a jeep was mentioned by witnesses.
One of them, that of Dr. Attendu was only met two months after the date of the perpetration of the crimes; it is not possible to connect it to that Coffin pretended having seen.
Two others, that of the Dumaresqs and that of the Tapps, were in fact only one and the same jeep, that of Dr. Burkett.
There were the only jeeps whose presence were reported to the police and judiciary authorities before the Percé trial and one of them, that of the Tapps, appeared to have also been known by the defence.
A fourth one, that of Mr. Arnold, was known by the defence attorneys at the time of the Percé trial; they, as we have since, were sure that it was not in the vicinity at the time the crimes were committed.
A fifth jeep, that of Lorne Patterson, was in fact only a station wagon and that, to the knowledge of at least one the defence attorneys.
A sixth, that of the Wilsons, could not have been that that Coffin might have seen.
As to the others, that of John Hackett, that of Quirion, only came out of the dark, in the course of the feverish campaign, undertaken with the hope of saving Wilbert Coffin with a proof whose obvious goal was an attempt to contradict the facts on which relied the justices of the Court of Appeal of Québec to uphold the verdict of guiltiness against Coffin.
I have, I believe, given sufficient reasons regarding the circumstances in which this proof was obtained, to the abnormalities and to the unbelievable coincidences that surrounded the obtaining of this proof, to affirm that, it is not only possible to say that only one of the jeeps whose mention was made to the federal Department of Justice and in the books of Messrs. Belliveau and Hébert, might be connected to that Coffin claimed having seen, but on the contrary, the preponderance of the proof made before us with the effect that no such jeep could have been that that might have seen Wilbert Coffin.
That does not prove that Coffin did not see a jeep, but this proves that none of the jeeps which it was talked about could have been that he claimed having seen and that his blatant « ruse » with regard to the Arnold and Wilson jeeps and his unconfirmed statements on jeep tracks do not prove that he has seen one.
It is also necessary to remember the inaccuracies of Mr. Belliveau and to what extent Mr. Jacques Hébert, in his last book, “I Accuse the Assassins of Coffin” has exaggerated, modified, distorted the proof brought to the attention of the federal authorities, interpreting it neglectfully and even adding to it without valuable reason.
I summarize my thought and deep conviction after having heard the proof that was submitted to me, as a result : apart from Dr. Burkett’s jeep, there is no unquestionable, serious and convincing proof that a jeep with American licence plates and occupied by two Americans had eluded the control of gate-keepers, fish and game wardens, at the entrance as well as at the exit of roads leading to the forest and bush, within the peninsula, and circulated in the surroundings of the place where the three American hunters, murdered around the 11th of June 1953, had abandoned their broken down pick-up truck.
It is obviously impossible to know what might have been the effect on the Percé jury of the presentation of this proof. The questions raised are the following: could this proof have been made before the jury by the Crown in whole or in part? In the negative, could it have been made by the defence if it had known it, in whole or in part?
Truly speaking, the first question only requires an answer, because as regards the presentation of this proof by the defence, it would have obviously met the same fate of any other proof, in view of the decision taken by Coffin’s attorneys, with his consent and his acquiescence, for the major reasons that we know, to not call their client to the witness stand, so as to not expose him to the fatal risk of being put in contradiction with his previous affirmative statements and omissions and to not run the risk to make a defence that would have entailed necessarily the obligation to call Coffin to the witness stand; because Coffin could not refrain from making the connection between the jeep he had seen and a jeep seen on one or several circumstances by others might have, inevitably, constituted an unfavourable element in the mind of the jury.
Is it to say that the Crown was justified, without knowing that the defence would not call witnesses to the stand, a) either to not submit any proof as to the Tapps' and Dumaresqs’ jeeps?, b) or, to not bring to the knowledge of the defence the facts that it knew? We shall answer these questions in a subsequent chapter.
INACCURACIES MADE BY JACQUES HÉBERT
On reflection, it may not be superfluous to mention, at the end of this chapter, some of the « inaccuracies » made by Mr. Hébert and that we have underlined at several places; I put in quotes Mr. Hébert’s inaccuracies, and the facts that contradict them follow :
Pages 162 « The Tapps had taken great care in submitting their information in the form of an affidavit handed over to the police before the trial »;
They submitted them over the phone; their affidavits were only given in the fall of 1955.
Page 163 : «Dr. and Mrs. Wilson would have seen their jeep on the 8th or 9th of June »;
They saw it on the morning of the 5h of June at 500 miles from Gaspé.
Page 164 : « Lorne Patterson stated having seen a jeep with two American tourists who inquired about the Lindseys »;
He saw a station wagon with only one passenger who only inquired about the road to Murdochville.
Page 164 : « John Hackett would have met Lorne Patterson who would have told him having seen a jeep and that one would have inquired if he, himself, had seen a jeep or a pick-up truck or the Lindsey party(!) »;
Both Hackett and Patterson emphatically denied this.
Page 164 : « Dr. Attendu had signed an affidavit », etc. « ;
His affidavit was only signed in the fall of 1955.
Page 165 » At the Mississippi Brook, two Americans asked for precise information, about the Lindseys (as precise, undoubtedly, as the Lorne Patterson’s Americans.!) »;
It regards Régis Quirion’s affidavit, to which we know what it is worth.
Page 166 : « Régis Quirion remembers that his boss Abbey McCallum has had a drink with two Americans. »;
McCallum categorically denied that.
Page 166 : « Gérard Roussy had stated having seen a jeep near the St-Jean River, on the 14th of June 1953 »:
Gérard Roussy told us that, at that time, he was working in the southern part of the Gaspé peninsula, in the vicinity of Grande-Rivière and St-Gabriel, and to go from these centres to the St-Jean river, at 75 miles north, one must go through Gaspé; He did not see any jeep on the St-Jean river or in the area north of the Gaspé peninsula; he does not even know the St-Jean river.
Page 167 : « Americans got out to speak to Andrew Girard, according to Gérald Quirion, and asked him where the American hunters were»
Andrew Girard denied this.
Page 167 : « Yvon Rehel helped out two Americans »;
Rehel denied that and no one was aware of this breakdown job.
Page 170 : « There is no proof that the Arnold jeep had gone to the Gaspé peninsula, but the testimony of Arnold was known and that the police have refused to take interest in it. »;
The truth is that the defence knew about the Arnold incident, and the Crown ignored it totally.