The Crown called it “issue whack-a-mole.”
For two days, Jason Nassr, 42, the brains behind the now defunct website Creeper Hunter TV who faces a jail sentence for his child predator vigilante tactics, took his shot this week at getting his charges stayed before his scheduled sentencing on July 18.
Nassr was convicted by jury in February of harassment by telecommunications, extortion and production and distribution of child pornography in a written form after an acrimonious trial. He brought forward a pre-sentencing motion heard this week before Superior Court Justice Alissa Mitchell, claiming abuse of process by the police and the Crown.
But for the first part of the hearing, Nassr used his time to try to re-litigate pre-trial issues, bring up other issues that should have been settled before the jury was seated and showed disdain for the Crown and the police.
Mitchell wanted an evidentiary basis for his claims but Nassr brought up a list of grievances, some that Mitchell already made rulings on, focusing in on his views of the conduct by the London police and assistant Crown attorney James Spangenberg, alleging they all had it out for him long before he went to trial.
He said some of his accusations came from eavesdropping on conversations and from hearsay evidence heard at a party that showed that everyone was out to get him because they had used his information for other prosecutions, then turned around and prosecuted him.
His beef with Spangenberg, who was referred to as the complainant in Nassr’s separate charge of intimidating a judicial officer, seemed to stem from an email where he thanked Nassr for forwarding text messages related to another Creeper Hunter case that ended up with charges withdrawn. He said the text messages would have been child pornography based on the result of his trial.
Assistant Crown attorney Jason Miller made the “whack-a-mole” reference when he asked Tuesday for Mitchell to deny most of Nassr’s arguments, suggesting to Mitchell that Nassr was “like a bad Amazon re-seller.
“You return the item to him and he re-packages it in non-descript cardboard boxes and sends back the same thing,” he said to Mitchell and asked that she throw out most of the arguments.
Mitchell agreed and dismissed Nassr’s two scheduled witnesses — former defence lawyer Katie Heathcote and London police Insp. Angela Johnson, the investigating officer. She told Nassr repeatedly that any of his complaints about Crown disclosure, the search of his apartment, his suggestion of inadequate representation and a host of other issues could be taken up at an appeal.
What went ahead was Nassr’s contention that there was an officially induced error by the police because many police services used his information for investigations and none, he said, ever told him that what he was doing was illegal.
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The convictions stem from his online activities with Creeper Hunter TV, a vigilante website that purported to be ferreting out child predators. The technique followed a pattern. Nassr would hop on adult dating sites and pretend to be an 18-year-old woman, then, once he established a connection, would move the conversation to text messaging, where he would confess he was a girl who was actually 12 or 13 years old.
A highly sexualized conversation would follow, then a plan to meet in person. Nassr would show up to the meeting with his camera for a gotcha video that confronted the target. That footage would be edited and put on the Creeper Hunter TV website with the target’s name, age, hometown and occupation.
It was Nassr’s exchange with a phone number belonging to a 49-year-old London-area man in July 2019 that opened up a wider investigation into his activities. Eight months after an exchange with the man’s phone number – which he claimed had been hacked – Nassr confronted him on the phone and produced an episode that was sent to the man’s estranged wife by an unfamiliar social media account.
The police opened an investigation and the man took his own life. His suicide prompted the police to look closer at Nassr’s activities and they were able to get a search warrant for Nassr’s Windsor apartment, where they uncovered digital evidence and laid charges.
Nassr argued that police agencies never told him his activities were illegal. “I think there was plenty of time to take some criminal action against me from 2015 to 2020 (when Creeper Hunter TV was operating), until Officer Johnson got involved,” he said at the hearing.
And, he added, that Spangenberg should have known the texts were child pornography based on the earlier prosecution of a Creeper Hunter target.
But under cross-examination by Miller, Nassr returned to his defiant self. He flew off the handle after just one question about any evidence he had that showed he received legal advice from the police.
“Excuse me,” he said loudly. “How would I? I don’t have any of those records because they were seized.
Miller suggested Nassr had “great contempt for the Crown.” Nassr said he had contempt “for the state” who accepted his information on one hand “and says it’s illegal on the other.”
Miller pointed out that there were times that police warned Nassr about what he was doing and that Nassr seemed to always be looking out for his potential criminal liability when he dealt with the police.
Miller argued that Nassr just doesn’t listen to advice he doesn’t like.
“Mr. Nassr is sitting where he is because of his own bad decisions,” Miller said.
Mitchell reserved her decision and will release it in writing at a later date.
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