Judge told Mountie suffered 'severe psychological injury' during code-of-conduct investigation

Ex-Mountie's trial underway

A former RCMP constable who claims he was railroaded by the national police force after a witness said they saw him ditch a booze bottle while on duty got his long-awaited day in court on Monday.

Milan Ilic’s month-long civil trial got underway in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops with an opening statement from the 43-year-old ex-Mountie’s lawyer.

Ilic was accused of lying in his testimony during a high-profile 2014 murder trial, and to his RCMP superiors during the subsequent code-of-conduct investigation. He is seeking damages from the RCMP for “severe psychological injuries” he suffered as a result of the probe.

“The nature of these allegations and the extent of the investigation, by its nature, destroyed his career and reputation,” Barry Carter, Ilic’s lawyer, said in court.

Ilic was the first police officer to arrive at the scene of Taylor Van Diest’s murder in Armstrong on Halloween night 2011. He became the subject of an RCMP code-of-conduct investigation in April of 2014, days after he testified at the trial of Van Diest’s killer.

Court heard the investigation stemmed from a claim made by a witness, Zoe Unruh. A friend of Van Diest, Unruh said she saw Ilic ditch a bottle of liquor he pulled from the pocket of his patrol jacket. Ilic claimed he threw a box of pens, not a bottle.

Carter claimed in court that police determined in 2015 that the allegations against Ilic were not substantiated. He said the investigation took a serious toll on the man.

“The crux of the case is that the RCMP believe Zoe Unruh when she says that he threw a bottle, and they don’t believe my client when he says he threw pens,” Carter said.

“It’s far more complicated than that, but that’s the crux of it.”

The issues at trial, Carter said, include whether the RCMP had a duty to conduct a "fair and impartial" investigation into Unruh's claims, and whether that duty was breached.

Ilic was the first witness to take the stand. He spent some time detailing his upbringing in Kamloops before delving into his career with the RCMP and his actions on the night of Van Diest’s death.

Ilic’s lawsuit was filed in 2016 and has been working its way through the court process since then. Carter said he expects to call approximately eight witnesses — including current RCMP officers, three experts, and Van Diest’s mother.

There has been no word yet on how many witnesses the defendant, the Province of B.C., intends to call.

Ilic is a born-and-raised Kamloops resident who became a Mountie in 2009, first posted in Vernon and then in the rural North Okanagan.

Court heard he has been diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder. Carter said Ilic’s mental health “rapidly declined” after he was re-interviewed by investigators following his testimony.

Ilic’s trial, in front of B.C. Supreme Court Justice Carla Forth, is expected to wrap up at some point in May.

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