An embattled Halifax police officer, who allegedly peeped in the windows of a local motel several times while on duty, says he did so to ensure the safety of the people inside.
Const. George Farmer, 44, was on the stand Thursday in Halifax provincial court. He has been charged with voyeurism, trespassing by night and breach of trust in connection with incidents at the Esquire Motel along the Bedford Highway between Nov. 23 and Dec. 3 of last year.
Farmer has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Police allege Farmer had gone to the motel several times during his night shifts and looked in the windows of rooms that had guests inside. At the time, police said the matter “is believed to have compromised the privacy of multiple victims.”
On the stand Thursday, Farmer admitted to looking into the windows while on duty, but said he did it because of the “reputation the motel has for prostitution, drugs and missing children.”
“I was there for safety and to ensure that no one was being assaulted,” Farmer testified.
Farmer added that he never looked in the windows for a sexual purpose or to view sexual activity. He admitted to unscrewing bulbs in security lights to appear less visible, but testified that he did so to have the advantage if there were to be any criminal activity.
Crown attorney Sylvia Domaradzki challenged Farmer’s stance that he was there to ensure safety throughout his testimony. She noted that in one of the surveillance videos, Farmer is seen unscrewing the security light bulbs several minutes after arriving.
“So the officer safety, your safety, is not your concern that you go there?” Domaradzki asked.
“Every day I put the uniform on I’m concerned for my safety,” Farmer replied. “But when I go (to the motel) … I can have a clear view from my position to the end of the Esquire.”
Farmer maintained that he believed he was conducting himself lawfully as a police officer during the incidents.
Domaradzki also pressed Farmer on why he didn’t let dispatch know that he was attending the motel. Farmer said he knew the police cruisers came with a GPS tracker, and that he didn’t want to be judged.
“I know the reasons why I was there,” Farmer said. “They may take it differently, that I was there for sexual gratification or sexual purposes.”
“It’s a very judgmental work environment.”
Farmer’s trial began on Wednesday and will be back in court on Dec. 7, when Farmer’s defence lawyer Joel Pink and Domaradzki will give their final submissions.
Farmer, who has 11 years of service with Halifax Regional Police, has been on paid leave since his arrest.
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