Friday, April 6, 2007

Nelson Hart confession tape to air on CBC TV

On March 25, I told you why TV viewers didn’t get to see the crucial confession tape at the Nelson Hart trial. There’s been a major development in that story, and the videotape is being released exclusively to CBC Here & Now. It will air Tuesday, April 10.

“We had to go to court to get it,” said CBC national reporter Peter Gullage, who did a superb job in covering this story. “There was a point where we thought it was going to be released, and then it wasn’t going to be released… so we had to appear before the judge in Gander on Monday, and then it took all week to get it. The RCMP had to digitize the undercover officers and alter their voices before it could be released.”

The agreement to release the tape was negotiated between the CBC lawyer and the judge, so Here & Now has the exclusive.

There are more than two hours of tape relevant to the confession – the incriminating scene on the wharf at Gander Lake is 15 minutes alone – so TV viewers will not see all of it. They will, however, see the most relevant and damning clips. Gullage says the tape is “quite something” to watch.

“People will find it creepy,” he said. “I mean, you watch movies and TV shows and they are catching bad guys all the time. And that’s entertainment. But this is the real stuff.”

Gullage is not certain, however, if it will influence public opinion about Hart’s guilt.

“Some people have decided (that Hart is guilty) and it will confirm everything they believe. Everybody else who is on the fence about the case, people on the other side, who believe his defence – that it was a false confession – will they be swayed by it? I don’t know… What he says and the way he says it is so convincing that it might change some people’s minds.”

Gullage also conducted a lengthy interview with Hart last week, at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, in which Hart continued to profess his innocence. “What I find amazing about the whole thing is the guy doesn’t feel he was responsible for any of it. He doesn’t see it as his responsibility. When he said that to me, I could not believe it.”

I expect there will be a lot of viewers tuning in next Tuesday. If you are one of the many visitors to this blog from outside the province, you can watch that (or any) edition of Here & Now soon after it airs by going to the CBC web site and clicking on Latest Newscast. It will remain online until it is replaced by the next day’s newscast, 24 hours later.

I was going to post a photo of Nelson Hart to accompany this item, but decided to use an image of young Karen and Krista instead. They, more than their father, deserve to be remembered as the central characters in this terrible story.

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