‘Mr. Big’ sting led to arrest in death of Cassidy Bernard

PORT HAWKESBURY: An eight-week trial has been set for the person accused of killing Cassidy Bernard.

Dwight Austin Isadore, 21, of Wagmatcook has been charged with the second-degree murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his children.

“I still don’t understand why you’re still trying to charge me with this stuff,” Isadore said as he appeared by video conference in Port Hawkesbury Supreme Court on November 13. “When I left my woman, she was alive.”

He made these comments in response to Justice Robin Gogan, after she advised the accused his judge and jury trial was to be scheduled for eight-weeks starting in January 2022.

Bernard, a 22-year-old mother of six-month-old infant twins at the time, was found dead inside her We’koqma’q First Nation home on October 24, 2018. Her daughters Mya and Paisley were found severely dehydrated but ultimately unharmed.

Isadore also faces two charges of child endangerment.

The RCMP announced charges against Isadore in the We’koqma’q community last December – he’s been in custody since his arrest, and has not sought bail.

Crown Attorney Shane Russell told the Supreme Court last Friday that charges laid against Isadore came as a result of a “Mr. Big” undercover investigation by the RCMP.

In a “Mr. Big” case, which is a covert investigation procedure used by undercover police to elicit confessions from suspects in cold cases, the police usually place the suspect, typically someone socially isolated and financially disadvantaged, under extended surveillance, typically for weeks.

Having learned about the suspect’s personality and habits, the police develop an interactive scenario. Pretending to encounter the suspect by happenstance, an undercover operative solicits a small favour from the suspect, perhaps to fix a flat tire.

They build a relationship with the suspect, gain their confidence, and then enlist their help in a succession of criminal acts. The undercover operative pays the suspect for petty tasks, such as counting cash or making deliveries, associated with fictitious criminal activity.

Eventually, the suspect is introduced to “Mr. Big,” the fictitious crime organization’s kingpin, who is actually a skilled police interrogator.

Employing enticements and threats, “Mr. Big” tells the suspect of receiving incriminating information about the suspect from the police. “Mr. Big” claims the impending arrest threatens the organization’s activity and “Mr. Big” must know the unsolved crime’s details and persuades the suspect into divulging information about their criminal history.

The Supreme Court heard from Isadore’s defence that their intention is to question the evidence obtained from the police operation and will be responsible for “a significant portion” of the eight-week trial – noting there is over a week’s worth of recordings of Isadore from the sting that would need to be heard by the court.

Isadore’s judge and jury trial is set to run from January 17 to March. 11, 2022. His next hearing is scheduled for December 22, to confirm trial and pre-trial dates.

Justice Gogan indicated the court needs to know what is going to be contested in a serious way and the January 2022 trial date was a “sort of worst-case scenario.”

Gogan advised Isadore’s trial could be scheduled earlier depending what the Crown and the defence conclude, and what evidence is allowed in court, resulting in a shorter projected trial.