Trial begins for former Abbotsford, B.C., vice-principal facing child porn charges

A former middle school vice principal from Abbotsford, B.C., has pleaded not guilty to two child porn-related charges at the start of his trial in New Westminster.

Michael Haire was previously the vice-principal at W.A. Fraser Middle School, and was employed by the Abbotsford School District for 12 years in total.

A voir dire, or trial within a trial to determine the admissibility of evidence, is being held following a request from defence lawyer Vincent Michaels, which was was agreed to by the Crown. Michaels is arguing the grounds for the search warrant executed at Haire’s house were insufficient.

Michaels told the court in July 2018, there was a six-second upload sent to Instagram “which we acknowledge constitutes child pornography."

Michaels said the upload was flagged by Instagram and ultimately reported to the Abbotsford Police Department. He added the social media platform also noted an IP address attached to the upload, which was later the subject of a production order served on Telus by police. Michaels told the court a search warrant was executed at Haire’s home on Sept. 13, 2018.

Michaels cross-examined the police officer who applied for the warrant, Det. Keith Nugent, who told the court while the possibility of others accessing the internet at the home was a “consideration," he didn’t have any information at the time to suggest how many people lived at the residence, or if there were frequent visitors.

“All I knew...was that the user of the internet at that residence was involved in the upload," Nugent said. "I didn’t take into consideration how many possible users were at the residence, all I know was that a user on that day at that time uploaded child pornography material.”

Nugent agreed it was also possible for others to “poach or piggyback” on someone’s Wi-Fi without their consent, but added he hasn’t experienced that scenario in other investigations he’s been involved in.

In September 2018, Haire was charged with one count of possession of child pornography and one count of making available child pornography.

At the time, Abbotsford police said they discovered thousands of images and videos on electronic devices seized during their investigation, which began in July 2018.

Madam Justice Heather MacNaughton has yet to rule on the voir dire. The trial is scheduled for five days.