You can run and you can hide, but if it’s Peel police you are running and hiding from, it doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get away.
Ask Haldane Smithen-Davis about that. He was on the lam for almost four years.
Peel Regional Police’s dogged determination was evident once again late Thursday when an airplane from England landed at Pearson International Airport with a much-sought-after fugitive in a shocking botched home invasion that left an alleged fellow accomplice dead.
This is a case that goes back to Dec. 7, 2012 on Corkstone Glade in Mississauga. As the Toronto Sun’s crime reporter Chris Doucette reported at the time, police responded at about 12:30 a.m. to a 911 call for a home invasion and robbery attempt.
When they arrived, they found one man dead and a whole bunch of questions since it seemed he was killed in a struggle with the homeowner.
Dead was Ibrahim Abukar, 22, of Toronto, who turned out to be one of three who broke into the home of a man and his wife and infant child.
A struggle ensued, a gun went off and Abukar was killed.
It raised a lot of questions. It was a real mystery how one of the alleged intruders ended up dead.
The two other intruders fled and all eyes were focused on home owner Mike Vrga, who people got behind as a victim of crime but who was being suggested as the one who pulled the trigger of a gun he wrestled away from one of the invaders.
But as Peel police investigated closer, they were able to identify who the suspected culprits were and set out to track them down.
It was not easy. It took a long time. But with the help of England’s Met Police extradition unit and New Scotland Yard, Consts. Colin Maisonneuve and Justin McKenzie and Insp. Sean Lawson were persistent.
“This was an example of great detective work,” said Sgt. Josh Colley, who himself has been a homicide detective and understands the difficulty. “This is a four-year-old case in which they never stopped pursuing leads.”
All of their hard work paid off when that plane landed during the supper hour Thursday.
It was a complicated puzzle to put together. Earlier this year, Jan. 25, police charged Jason Hamilton, 42, of Mississauga, with manslaughter, alleging it was a bullet from his gun that ultimately killed his pal Abukar, a York University student. He is on bail but will face a trial this year.
Peel police had found the third alleged player in this botched crime in northern England a few months earlier. Smithen-Davis faces charges of break and enter with intent to commit a robbery with a firearm. After he was caught, police immediately started work on the process to have him extradited back to Canada to face trial.
The suspect tried to fight the extradition but he was unsuccessful. As soon as he landed, he was taken into Peel police’s Derry Road station for questioning.
That is going to be some trial as the Crown tries to sort out how this all happened. One thing for sure is homeowner Vrga goes down as brave as he fought to protect his family and his property. There is even a Facebook site called Support for Mike Vrga: A Real Canadian Hero.
“If you play in crime you will finish in crime,” Mike Gluvic commented on the site. “These guys were intruders! I’m glad Mike’s family is safe! Vrga is a hero and he did nothing different from what any normal human would do.”
And Peel police did what they always do. They ran down the ground balls until they got a suspect before the courts — even going to another part of the world to find him.
For a few years, this suspect was able to get away. But Peel police caught Haldane Smithen-Davis, and while perhaps suffering from jet lag from his overseas flight from London, he will be in court in Brampton for a bail hearing Friday morning.