Accused killer Joe Verma was trying to help Brittney Irving before her murder, trial hears

Published: October 9, 2013
Brittney irving

Brittney Irving was found murdered in East Kelowna on April 26, 2010. Joe Verma allegedly bought $100,000 worth of marijuana off her is charged with shooting her to death. Kelowna RCMP

KELOWNA DAILY COURIER

Joe Verma is staying quiet about the day Brittney Irving disappeared and relying on his lawyers to defend him.

After a month of listening to witnesses testify against him, the man charged with shooting Irving to death in a drug deal has decided not to testify in his defence. Instead, his lawyers are expected to argue Wednesday the pair never met up as planned on April 6, 2010 and Verma had nothing to do with the 24-year-old’s murder.

The Crown’s final witness on Tuesday left the B.C. Supreme Court jury with more evidence to consider. Sgt. Sam Ghadban recorded an interview with Verma outside one of the Landmark buildings in Kelowna two months after Irving disappeared. Verma told him police were after the wrong guy.

“She was into some big sh*t with some big people,” he said on the recording played in court Tuesday. “I’m f***ing small fry . . . You guys are wasting your time.”

Verma, on trial for first-degree murder, told police he’d planned a marijuana deal with Irving the day anyone last saw her, but she never showed up.

His cousin Jason Labonte told the jury Verma and Irving each came over to his place and dumped two bags and a box in his garage. The two then left in separate vehicles.

Hours later, Verma asked Labonte to drive to a remote part of McCulloch Road and help him dislodge a truck that was stuck in the mud. Labonte eventually led police to the spot and officers found Irving’s bullet-ridden body in the bushes nearby.

Verma had borrowed the Ford F-150 from his hunting friend, Mike Roberts. Two months later, he denied he was in the truck that day.

When Ghadban asked him if police should focus on Roberts, Verma said no.

Instead, he pointed to the marijuana dealers Irving was supposed to do business with on April 6. Police had already busted her for running a grow-op a week or so earlier. She’d lost her house, the crop and other people’s money, Verma told the officer.

“Look at the house she f***ing lost. Look at the dope she lost. Look at the money that she lost. She was stressing on everybody, not just me. She was doing Oxycontin, snorting f***ing coke, partying till odd ends of the night. You guys can figure it out, man . . . It ain’t that hard.”

Verma and Irving had “moved a couple of pounds here and there,” but nothing big. He ended up renting her a room at a Kelowna motel because she had nowhere to live, he said.

“She was f***ing scared for her life . . . so I got her a hotel and put it under my name and this is where we live. All I was doing was trying to help her.”

Verma was waiting for her April 6, but she never even answered his call. The last time she texted him was around 11 a.m. or noon, he said.

He appeared to resent talking to Ghadban, but understood he was a suspect. He owns a company, he said. He wants to stay away from “losers” and be legitimate.

“I’ve been out for three years now and away from everybody. I haven’t been to nightclubs . . . I have nothing to do with it.”

If he did, he’d be living at his lawyer’s house, he said. He refused to “rat” or suggest anyone with a grudge who may have killed Irving.

“I’d rather sit in jail than (have) my friends shot at or babies getting murdered . . . I’d rather protect my family,” he said.

“Pay attention, dig deep on what she was doing, who she was involved with.”

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