Beckon demo

Part 1 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide?

Part 2 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? (Part 2)

Coroner’s Inquest Notes

• Inquest was led by Dr. James Young, Deputy Coroner for Ontario.
• Shirley Scime of Ancaster (Beckon’s aunt) re: Beckon being pressured to turn over his address book and identify someone in a photograph, Beckon said if he identified the person(s) in the photo “My life wouldn’t be worth shit.”
• Stan Won (neighbour) – found body and said initially that he saw a blue car on a nearby knoll, as though it were leaving the death scene.
• Wos later told the Toronto Star that the car was in toward the deserted farm.
• Was Beckon’s second private test drug free because the period during which cocaine had passed?
• Brian Swatuk (another jockey) was undergoing treatment for cocaine addiction.
• Beckon’s agent, Jimmy Santha, said he saw Beckon shortly before 11:30 am at Woodbine.
• The time was disputed by David Brown, the lawyer representing Beckon’s widow Diane, and he questioned whether Santha even saw Beckon at all.
• The inquest witnesses sure seem to all contradicting Santha’s testimony.
• Why did Kirkman so drastically change his timeline?
• Was he pressured to by Diane Beckon’s lawyer to point the finger at Santha?
• Outside the courtroom, after the testimony of Stan Wos and his daughter, Diane Beckon and private investigator Richard Russell visited Wos at his home on August 3, 1987.
• Diane Beckon quotes Wos as telling them he had seen the car leaving the death scene and not entering as he testified at the inquiry.
• Diane Beckon said Wos said the vehicle was not a hatchback.
• The inquest was told in 1979 and 1980 a special police unit was allowed to tap phones at Woodbine in a gambling investigation and taped 500 hours of conversations. Note: This is likely where the rumour of the phones being tapped came from.
• Dr. Richard Roelofson said there was an agreement in place on the drug testing that, “At no time would we be concerned with the legality of the drugs, and at no time to make an inquiry where they were coming from.” Note: So it’s quite possible it wasn’t dealers the Ontario Jockey Club were asking Beckon to name in the picture and in his address book. Could it be gambling and/or fixed races?
• Coroner Dr. Jim Young, who was in charge of the inquest told the jury before they were to deliberate “I cannot think of a single piece of evidence that is inconsistent with the suicide theory.”
• What is the coroner in charge doing drawing a conclusion? Shouldn’t it be left to the jury?

Coroner’s Inquest – OPP Constable James Wilde (Identification Unit)

• There were no fingerprints found on the rifle.
• There were no fingerprints on the two suicide notes.
• Only a smudge was found on one note.
• Tests were not done to determine the proximity between Beckon’s head and the gun that killed him.
• Wilde said he did not notice or photograph an exit wound on the left side of Beckon’s head at the autopsy, although one is mentioned in the pathologist’s report, measuring 2 1/2cm (1 inch).
• No test was made on Beckon’s hands to establish that he had fired the .22 calibre rifle because, due to “budget restraints” the Centre of Forensic Sciences “Won’t accept a suicide weapon for testing.”
• Trace elements of gunshot residue can stick to hands by simply holding a gun that has been fired, or by handling cartridges.
• An empty shell casing found three meters (about 10 feet) from the body was not checked for fingerprints because “There was no reason to.”
• Wilde said he found a red felt pen in the glovebox of Beckon’s truck, while a handwriting expert from the Forensic Centre testified that he had examined the suicide notes under a microscope and that they were written with a ballpoint pen. Note: Was the ballpoint pen ever found?
• Wilde says it is not unusual for no fingerprints to be found on firearms or documents. It depends on certain secretions from the body.
• Asked about a swelling on Beckon’s right cheek, Wilde testified “I would attribute nothing on his face to the traumatic effect of the gunshot wound.”
• Wilde did refer to a crack in the butt of the rifle found at the scene, saying: “The crack in the rifle butt was there, but I think you will find (out) later about it.” Note: Was the crack ever brought up again in the inquest?
• How did a bullet casing from that type of rifle travel 10 feet?
• The Forensic Centre for Examination would not have accepted the box of cartridges found in Beckon’s truck for testing because it was considered a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
• The red felt pen found in the glove box was not tested for fingerprints.
• The cartridges were found on the drivers seat.
• Other items found in the truck were a jockey’s helmet, a riding crop, a shirt and a racing form.

Coroner’s Inquest – Handwriting Expert A.A. Dreger

• When he examined the suicide notes “There is no indication of fear or duress.”

Suicide Note

Coroner’s Inquest – Leo Bertrand (in charge of jockey’s room at Woodbine)

• Said he overheard Beckon talking to Dr. Richard Roelofson, Deputy Supervisor of Thoroughbred Racing for the Ontario Racing Commission and the man responsible for random drug tests at Ontario race tracks.
• “I heard Danny tell the Doc: ‘You got to be kidding me. I’ve been a goddam good boy. It’s got to be somebody fooling around with my (urine) tests.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Emilio Davison (Beckon’s valet)

• Testified he had worked for Beckon for between 7 and 8 years.
• Davison said “I never found him under the influence of drugs, and I cleaned out the boxes and never found any drugs.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Debi Lockhurst (Trainer)

• She said Beckon had told her he occasionally went to the farm where his body was found to think and sometimes smoked marijuana there.
• Lockhurst said Beckon had told her he was under pressure to “Point a finger” at other drug users at the track and said, “Where would I start? At the top and work my way down?”

Jimmy Santha

Coroner’s Inquest – Jimmy Santha (Beckon’s agent)

• Said he talked to Beckon shortly after Beckon learned he’d tested positive.
• “I said, ‘What are you going to do now?’ He said, ‘I am going to what I should have done a long time ago. I am going to shoot myself.”
• At this point David Brown, a lawyer representing Beckon’s widow challenged Santha’s statement, saying: “I am going to suggest to you that you never saw Dan on July 2, and he never told you he was going to kill himself.”
• Important: Santha’s timeline of events differs from timeline Beckon’s mother-in-law, Myrna Bartle. She says Beckon was already home in Bolton by 11:35 am.
• Crown attorney Bill Wolski earlier had asked Santha the colour of his car, in reference to a blue vehicle that was seen at the abandoned farm at the time the body was found. Answer was?
• Outside court an infuriated Santha heatedly exclaimed: “Look what they are asking me, as if I did it or something. I wasn’t expecting this.”
• Santha said he had been playing cards in a recreation room at Woodbine race track when Beckon gestured to him through a window to go outside.
• He quoted Beckon as saying, “I got another bad test. I am tired of having them picking on me.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Pat County (Trainer)

• Says he had seen Beckon at the track between 11:00 and 11:30 am and that the rider was looking for Santha.
• County and Beckon looked in the recreation room and County suggested they check in the racing office, prompting Beckon to comment, “Any time I am looking for the son-of-a-bitch I can’t find him.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Ken Zweig (Racetrack worker at Woodbine)

• Said he saw Beckon making a phone call at a Shell gas station while he was driving by.
• He said he was “Pretty sure” the clock in the car registered 10:23 am.
• It was not unusual for track personnel to make call outside because, “A lot of people at the track think the phones (at Woodbine) are tapped.” Note: Why would employees and workers at the track feel the phones were tapped? Possibly confirmed at a later date in the inquest when the talk came to the murder of a mobster at nearby Toronto Pearson International Airport.
• The driver of the car was trainer Desmond Alderson.

Coroner’s Inquest – David Clark (Jockey)

• Said he along with Beckon and Brian Swatuk were snorting cocaine at the wedding of jockey Gary Stahlbaum in the early 1980’s.

Coroner’s Inquest – Janet Vickery (runs the Bolton Convenience store at King Rd. & Hwy. 50)

• Saw Beckon some time between 12:15 pm and 12:45 pm leaning against a lamp post across the street (North bound lanes, east side of Hwy. 50)
• Beckon then walked into her store, looking at a rack of video cassettes for a few minutes and left without speaking to her.

Coroner’s Inquest – Linda Lunys (Bank teller at Bolton branch of the Royal Bank)

• Beckon deposited $5,855.00 into his business account between 11:30 am and noon.

Coroner’s Inquest – Sid Kirkman (Beckon’s neighbour)

• Testified that Beckon spoke to him at bottom of driveway at 11:45 am saying he looked at his watch and noted the time.
• Earlier Kirkman had said the time was 12:15 pm.

Coroner’s Inquest – Stan Wos (farmer who found Beckon’s body)

• Riding a small motorcycle to the abandoned farm where Beckon’s body was found when he saw a light-blue, mid-sized car in the laneway leading to the property.
• Minutes later, he found the body.
• After returning home to phone police he went back to the scene with a farm hand and saw a signed, hand written note and personal articles through the window of the truck and these led him to conclude the body was that of Beckon.
• His 14-year-old daughter, Lisa, was a passenger on the motorcycle just before 1:00 pm.
• “We just saw a bluish car. It was too far to see the make or year. I could not make out any details.”
• “I could see the front left hood, the windshield and the left (driver’s) side,” noting he observed the vehicle “Maybe a second, two seconds, then we went over the hill and could not see it.”
• “It was a shiny colour, metallic or shiny. I could not see anyone inside or around the vehicle.”
• The car could not have turned because the laneway is too narrow, “And the only way it could have exited was to reverse.”

Beckon 2

Coroner’s Inquest – Lisa Wos (daughter of farmer Stan Wos)

• Confirmed her father’s story, saying she also saw the blue car and thought it “Wasn’t a small car, it was a fair sized car, about the size of a Monte Carlo.”
• She said she had seen cars there before and they had backed out.

Coroner’s Inquest – Roy Watts (General Manger of the Horseman’s Benevolant and Protective Association

• Testified he had seen Beckon talking to agent Jimmy Santha around 11:00 am the day he died.
• Watts said he left his office on the backstretch around 11:00 an on July2, went to the Racing Secretary’s office for a moment and when he returned he saw Beckon and Santha talking outside his office windows.

Coroner’s Inquest – Don Goldrup (Ambulance Attendant)

• Testified the body was found lying in a left side semi-fetal position with his hands and feet close together while lawyers and spectators crowded around for a better view of the demonstration.
• He showed how the muzzle of the barrel had been covered by Beckon’s body with the fingers of the left hand beneath the barrel and the right hand resting on top of it.

Coroner’s Inquest – Joe Boyes (Ambulance Attendant)

• Sent to the abandoned farm about 1:30 pm
• Beckon’s body was still warm although there were no vital signs and his eyes did not react too light.
• The ambulance arrived at the farm at 1:51 pm

Coroner’s Inquest – OPP Constable Eric Lucas

• The grass was two feet high and intact on the passenger side of the Beckon truck near the body, but was trampled on the driver’s side, possibly due to the movements of the ambulance attendant’s.
• Lucas said among the contents of the truck was a red ballpoint pen. Note: OPP investigator Wilde testified a red felt pen was found in the truck but didn’t mention a red ballpoint.

Coroner’s Inquest – David Bartle (Beckon’s brother-in-law)

• About two months before Beckon died, Bartle overheard Beckon yelling at someone on the phone: “I’ve had enough of this shit.” and that he “Wanted to get out.”
• Bartle told the court that Beckon had said he could get drugs in return for “favours” at the racetrack, although Beckon didn’t spell out what those favours were.
• Bartle said he thought the favours referred to “Side bets or something like that.”
• Regarding Beckon’s address, Bartle said Beckon told him: “(He) said if anyone got hold of it he would have his legs busted.”

Coroner’s Inquest – John Hines (Head of OPP Fingerprint Laboratory)

• Someone would have to wipe a weapon “pretty extensively” to remove all fingerprints.
• Note: Yet there were no prints on the .22 calibre rifle or the suicide note.
• Hines agreed with Beckon family lawyer, John Murray, that a person’s hands are likely to sweat more in a stressful situation.
• And if a person were about to put a gun to their head, there is an “extreme likelihood” of that sweat increasing.
• Hines said that if a gun were wiped clean, marks “may or may not” be evident because such a cleaning “sometimes leaves prints.”
• The rifle in the Beckon case was subjected to standard fingerprint tests, but not to a sophisticated laser technique used when prints are less obvious.
• One test was done by police on the suicide notes on July 2, 1987 and another on January 27, 1988.
• “At that point, the laser on the paper would not help,” adding that “extensive handling” can impede the lifting of a print from a surface.
• Hines said he had never looked at the gun.
• He testified that fingerprints may disappear in 30 minutes under certain conditions, but couldn’t think of a case in which it happened.
• He also recalled a case involving a Nazi war criminal where a set of fingerprints had remained intact for 30 years.
• Hines explained fingerprints are made up of 98.5% water and 1.5% “solid matter” which he described as salts and fat secreted from the body.
• In preparation for the inquest, Hines said he did a “quick survey” of 212 firearms that have been examined by his unit over the past 2 1/2 years, of which only 19 guns yielded fingerprints.

Coroner’s Inquest – Brian Kessel (Horse trainer and Beckon’s neighbour)

• Beckon was given drugs in the parking lot at racetracks by people to whom he gave tips.
• Beckon also told Kessel he timed his drug use to avoid testing positive in random drug tests and claimed to have “$50,000 in US bills hidden in the walls of the basement.”
• Kessel knew Beckon since 1980.
• Saying he knew that Beckon was “Good at getting things” and that “I knew he had done drugs.” Kessel quoted Beckon as once telling him, “I have three or four coloured people I tout, and I meet them after the races in the parking lot and instead of money I get drugs.”
• Beckon’s home was Whitehead Crescent in Bolton, apparently not the farm.
• Kessel quoted Beckon as saying “A blond older woman who used to be married to a jock has been betting for me. She gives it to me in cash. She gives it to me because she likes me.”
• “Occasionally, I have to kiss her and hold her hand. I don’t like it. She used to be married to a jock from the Buffalo area. He told me the lady bets a lot of money.” Is this referring to Barbara Russo who hired the PI.
• Beckon, Kessel said, would her the names of horses he liked, and he quoted the jockey as saying that “Sometimes I don’t say anything to her and she gives me money where she bet my horses.”
• Kessel added, “I asked Dan if Diane knew and he said yes, she has seen it , and there was something about throwing it (around).”
• John Murray, counsel for the Beckon family, said Diane Beckon will deny that story.
• Kessel owned an adult book shop downtown and previously had plead guilty to charges of possessing and distributing obscene material.
• Kessel told Dr. Richard Roelofson, “that Dan had been getting pressure from home, and he said he’d heard that, too.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Robert Monument (Firearms Examiner at Ontario’s Centre for Forensic Sciences

• Testifying from large colour photographs because he said he had not been given any of Beckon’s tissue to study.
• Monument said a “crusty” area seen around the bullet hole “Is fully consistent” with the wound being from a close range shot.
• He examined the muzzle of the rifle for traces of blood and tissue but could not find any.
• “That does not indicate too much because on a contact shot you do not necessarily have it (fly) back on the weapon.”
• Monument confirmed the bullet found in Beckon’s head, although badly damaged, showed markings consistent with the barrel.
• He tested the rifle by firing it from various distances to show powder patterns.
• When the rifle was fired with the muzzle touching the paper, most of the propellant powder was driven into the bullet hole.
• Dr. Zahir Moloo, the pathologist who did the autopsy on Beckon’s body said he found no soot in the skull.
• Addressing previous testimony at the inquest that a shell casing had been found 3 meters (about 9.8 feet) from the body, Monument said that in his test firings the spent shell were ejected 5 to 6 feet into the air before hitting the floor.
• In at test with the butt on the ground and the barrel angled upward, the casings fell to within 18 inches of where he was standing.

Coroner’s Inquest – Glenn Wellspring (Friend of Beckon’s)

• Loaned Beckon the gun.
• Testified that he had used the same ammunition, a low-velocity bullet made in Yugoslavia, in another rifle and the empty casings dropped at his feet on ejection.

Coroner’s Inquest – Dr. Zahir Moloo (Pathologist)

• Dr. Zahir Moloo, the pathologist who did the autopsy on Beckon’s body said he found no soot in the skull.
• Asked about a swelling noted on Beckon’s right cheek after his death, he said he had made no note of it on his autopsy report because “It appeared normal to me,” since he had not seen the jockey before and there had been no bruising on the skin.
• The trajectory of the fatal bullet travelled from front right to rear left and at a slightly upward angle.
• Sections of Beckon’s brain were preserved for further examination if required.
• Said he did not peel back the scalp to check the wound because a policeman (Constable Ken Ruttan) told him the death was a suicide.
• “The thing I was certain about was it (the gun) was not tightly held to the surface.”
• He also told the inquest he has no experience with high and low-velocity rifles.
• Moloo examined the wound from inside the skull not from the outside in.

Coroner’s Inquest – Dr. Frederick Jaffe (Pathologist Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences)

• “This wound suggests a rifle that was either on or near right angles to the head and would be very unusual in an accidental wound.”
• Jaffe cited gaps in the evidence collected that he would have liked to examine such as:
• Tissue from the area of the bullet wound.
• Beckon’s clothing: “It would have been very interesting to have had an examination of the clothing…I am not aware that one was done.”
• His body.
• Photographs of both sides of the jockey’s face instead of the one side that was taken.
• Said he had found a black granular material in the sample of Beckon’s brain tissue but could not identify it, although he thought it was firearm residue.
• “I believe death occurred where the body was found, ‘Because the flow of blood from nose and mouth was from right to left to indicate the side on which the body was found.
• “I believe that the appearance and the bullet entrance suggest a light-contact wound.”
• He said he believed the swelling on the right side of Beckon’s face was caused by blood seepage and probably by severe damage to the facial bones.

Coroner’s Inquest – Riverside Cafe (Bolton) Owner (Harry Bidzios)

• The restaurant was a location where Beckon was well known.
• The owner had been at the cash register, a few feet from a pay phone in the restaurant, when she heard Beckon say, “In an emotional tone: ‘Rick, leave me alone. Leave me alone!’”
• Then Beckon said “Alright, I’ll meet you at the place in 30 minutes” and slammed down the phone and left without paying his bill.
• Event was corroborated by a waitress.
• The event in question was apparently from a prior day.
• “I told Ken (OPP Constable Ken Ruttan) about Beckon’s phone conversation because he’s a friend of mine and I thought it was something he might look into … it looked strange to me.”
• The OPP never took a statement from either the waitress or the owner.

Coroner’s Inquest – Neighbour of Beckon’s

• In May 1987 between 7:30 pm and 8:00 pm a late-model, expensive looking dark or metallic blue Oldsmobile or Buick slowly cruised past the Beckon home four times, as if the driver was trying to communicate with someone in the house. (Appears to refer to the house in Bolton and not the farm)
• Beckon then left the house in his pickup truck and drove down the road to meet the driver of the car.
• They parked their vehicles with the driver’s sides facing each other and talked for five to ten minutes.
• The description of the driver in the car as “a white male, in his 30’s, nice looking” with reddish-brown curly hair and about medium height.

Coroner’s Inquest – Firearms Expert

• Conducted a series of tests at the death scene with a .22 calibre rim-fire Winchester rifle, almost identical to the one found beneath Beckon’s body to determine how far it would eject a spent shell.
• He said that with the butt of the gun on the ground and using bullets identical to those found in Beckon’s pickup, the farthest the gun would eject an empty shell was 27 inches.
• With the gun held in the air, the farthest it would eject a shell was about five feet.
• A spent shell was found at the death scene near the right front wheel of Beckon’s pickup, about 10 to 12 feet from his body.

Coroner’s Inquest – Shirley Scime (Beckon’s aunt)

• Scime said Beckon said “he was under pressure at the track and … was in it up to his eyeballs and was scared,”
• Re: Beckon’s address book – “He said, ‘You know, I have this red book … and I burned it in the field for Diane’s protection’.”
• She testified Beckon said he was also under pressure over a photograph taken of him and another man in a restaurant.
• “He said it (the man in the photo) could probably be a relation of Uncle Charlie’s. My husband is Sicillian.”
• The day after Beckon died, she was at Beckon’s home with friends and family and Beckon’s agent Jimmy Santha, and she told Santha of Beckon’s concern over the photo. “Jimmy piped up and said, ’That must have been so-and-so’.”
• She was unable to recall the name mentioned.

Coroner’s Inquest – Lloyd Werden (Drug Counsellor)

• Beckon described himself as an “off and on” cocaine user, but also contradicted himself when he said he used “$1000 worth a week”.

Coroner’s Inquest – Undercover Policeman

• Overheard people say “It wasn’t just cocaine that killed Dan Beckon.”
• Infiltrated the backstretch in a drug operation.
• He said he witnessed many transactions including cocaine, hashish and marijuana.
• “Most of the large transactions I saw I believe would have been related to owners, trainers or jockeys.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Michael Hargreaves (Firearms Expert – SAS Canada)

• Fired seven test shots.
• The extractor and ejector systems of the rifle he used and the one found at the death scene were identical.
• Fired four shot with the rifle in a vertical position, butt on the ground, and found that the ejected cartridges stayed where they landed and did not roll.
• They were measured at distances of between a third of a meter (13 inches) and two-thirds of a meter (27 inches) from the butt.
• For the other three shots, the rifle was held parallel to, and 1.67 meters (5 feet, 6 inches) above the ground, and found the ejected cartridges landed at distances between 2 meters (6 feet, 6 inches) and about a meter (3 feet, 3 inches).
• Given the height of the grass at the time of Beckon’s death, he estimated that the cartridges at that time would have been about a third to thirds of a meter (12 to 24 inches) closer to the ejection point.
• His tests were consistent with tests with the actual gun.

Coroner’s Inquest – Diane Beckon

• Re: Suicide notes – said she never heard her husband use the term “You’s,” the word used in the letter to Chad.
• “I don’t believe it’s a word he would use,” adding that it would have been “out of character” for Beckon to use such long sentences.
• She said her husband was not well educated in sentence and paragraph structure (he had a Grade 6 education), yet the suicide notes were in paragraph form “Instead of one long sentence.”
• “These notes are unusual and there would normally be scratches to correct errors. He would avoid writing. In the 15 years I was with Dan, he never wrote me anything.

Coroner’s Inquest – Dr. Vincent DiMaio (Pathologist)

• Referring to a bullet wound in Beckon’s head, said from the evidence he has seen, “We must conclude it’s a distant wound (where the gun was fired from more than 18 inches away), and that has got to be homicide.”
• His testimony contradicts the Crown pathologist.
• DiMaio said the type of ammunition used was “fairly dirty” and for a distance of up to 12 inches would leave soot or powder in the wound that could be seen with the naked eye.
• However, the residue would be trapped between the skin and the outside of the skull and that such markings would not be found on the inside of the skull. Note: Dr. Zahir Moloo had testified he found soot in the skull.

Final Summation – Dr. Jim Young (Coroner in charge of Inquest)

• Coroner Dr. Jim Young, who was in charge of the inquest told the jury before they were to deliberate “I cannot think of a single piece of evidence that is inconsistent with the suicide theory.”
• What is the coroner in charge doing drawing a conclusion? Shouldn’t it be left to the jury?
• On the absence of fingerprints on the rifle he cited testimony in which the jury was told prints weren’t found in the majority of gunshot cases.
• On the gunshot wound: Two pathologists examined Beckon’s body, but did not look closely at the wound in the critical area between the skin and skull.
• Another expert from Texas that examined the evidence said he was convinced the shot was fired from at least 18 inches away “And that means its homicide.”
• Told the jury “You must resolve the issue somehow,” inviting them to “Comment if you think a wound should be checked from the skin to the skull.”
• Citing the distance between the empty shell casing found at the scene from where Beckon’s body was found, Young concluded it was consistent with test firings done with the rifle.
• Other tests by independent experts show the casing would not fly and roll further than 6 feet.
• Young then said it’s possible that the cartridge had been kicked by one of the officials at the scene or that the jockey had taken a few steps after the fatal shot.
• Also said he is “convinced” that the rifle was parallel with the ground when fired.
• The coroner concurred with the testimony of witnesses who thought the swelling on Beckon’s face was of no significance.
• On the blue car spotted at the death scene, Young said the farmer who found Beckon’s body and the farmer’s daughter, had given essentially the same testimony.
• They testified the car was facing in toward the farm and was stopped on a knoll.
• The coroner cited a demonstration staged at the scene for the jury. From the distance the farmer said he’d seen the vehicle, Young said he’d had difficulty in establishing if the witness was looking at the front of the vehicle or a Nissan pickup truck (which Beckon owned).
• “I have no trouble saying it could have been Dan’s truck, where he stopped to have a look at the farm. If someone had just murdered Dan, would they not leave the scene fast and not stop on the knoll?”
• Could the car have been looking for a place to turn around?
• Of the testimony of two witnesses who said they’d seen the jockey on the phone at a Bolton cafe telling someone named Rick or Nick to “Leave me alone,” the coroner said, “It’s difficult to know how much importance to attach to it.” He added, “Is that proof he was murdered?”

Eric Murray – Beckon Family Lawyer

• “I’m there to hear the jury’s opinion, not the coroner’s opinion. You expect a middle-of-the road direction. The coroner is wrong, in my opinion.”

Final Verdict of Inquest

• The jury returned a verdict of suicide.

• The Jockey Club and the Racing Commission may have been concerned a murder verdict would provide support for the theory that the racing authorities were responsible for Beckon’s death because they had forced him to come up with “Names” if he wished to continue racing.
• The investigation was badly flawed based on the presumption there was no foul play, an autopsy conducted on the presumption the death was a suicide and an inquest dominated by a coroner who left little doubt about the verdict he expected from the jurors.
• The initial investigation conducted by the OPP was conducted on the assumption Beckon had killed himself.
• Because of this assumption the police failed to perform the most basic tests that could have shed real light on the manner that Beckon had met his death.
• Coroner Young’s lengthy summation to the jury steadfastly rejected evidence that didn’t prove suicide. Morever, he stepped over a very important line by telling the jurors, “I cannot think of a single piece of evidence that is consistent with the murder theory.”
• And he grossly usurped the function of the jurors when he told them that he believed he manner of death was suicide .
• Young left the hearing room before the family’s lawyers could make objections about the summation. This meant he did not have the benefit of any objections from the family’s lawyers, or any recommendations to improve the charge and insure an accurate verdict, and that any errors went uncorrected.

April 1990

Ontario Divisional Court threw out the inquest jury’s verdict, sharply criticizing the coroner for his charge to the jury.

November 1990

Police laid multiple charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

July 11, 1992

An Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the Divisional Court ruling against the suicide ruling. The death was ruled “Undetermined”.


• Beckon made out a $5,855 deposit slip for another bank in Bolton
• Wrote a $1500 cheque for his agent, Jimmy Santha
• Clearly money wasn’t an issue, so why, if he even had a little doubt he would fail the drug test, wouldn’t he just decline the test and pay the $2000 fine?
• Why would he kill himself in a location where his body might not be found for days or weeks?
• Why shoot yourself in such a way you may only seriously wound yourself?
• Were the tests used as a lever by someone to get at Beckon and back him into a corner? The Ontario Jockey Club (OJC) or Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) wanted his address book and to know who someone was in a photograph that Beckon had.
• Do police know who Beckon contacted while making a call from a pay telephone shortly after he’d been suspended?
• Did police determine if arrangements were made during the phone call to meet someone on the main street of Bolton and take them to the deserted farm for a private discussion?
• Beckon left a Bolton convenience store, as though seeing someone outside he was supposed to meet.
• Do police have any concerns that notes left by Beckon were written under some sort of duress?
• Did police take tire mark impressions and identify a blue car which was seen in the driveway of the abandoned farm shortly before Beckon’s body was discovered?
• Was there concern that Beckon had been selected three times for drug testing and that he might think it was a form of harassment and lead to suicide?
• Were police aware that Beckon’s barn was ransacked sometime in the afternoon or evening of the day he died?
• Does the OPP have the results of the independent drug tests conducted for Beckon at the Mann Testing Laboratories in Mississauga?
• Were paraffin tests conducted to determine if Beckon had fired the weapon and if ballistic results confirmed the .22 calibre rifle was actually used in the suicide? According to the testimony of OPP Constable James Wilde (Identification Unit) not tests were conducted due to budget restraints at the Centre of Forensic Sciences and they “Won’t accept a suicide weapon for testing.”
• An empty shell casing found three meters (about 10 feet) from the body was not checked for fingerprints because “There was no reason to.” Note: How did a shell casing ejected from that type of rifle travel 10 feet?
• Wilde said he found a red felt pen in the glovebox of Beckon’s truck, while a handwriting expert from the Forensic Centre testified that he had examined the suicide notes under a microscope and that they were written with a ballpoint pen. Note: Was the ballpoint pen ever found?
• Asked about a swelling on Beckon’s right cheek, Wilde testified “I would attribute nothing on his face to the traumatic effect of the gunshot wound.”
• Wilde did refer to a crack in the butt of the rifle found at the scene, saying: “The crack in the rifle butt was there, but I think you will find (out) later about it.” Note: Was the crack ever brought up again in the inquest?
• It was not unusual for track personnel to make call outside because, “A lot of people at the track think the phones (at Woodbine) are tapped.” Note: Why would employees and workers at the track feel the phones were tapped? Possibly confirmed at a later date in the inquest when the talk came to the murder of a mobster at nearby Toronto Pearson International Airport.
• Barbara Russo as of March 15, 2015 still owned racehorses (Standardbreds) running out of Buffalo Raceway trained by Neal Russo (Son?)
• Wednesday August 4, 1993 trainer Neal Russo lost his trainers licence for a month when one of his horses tested positive for illegal drugs.
• Neal Russo was also suspended from July 12, 1990 to July 16, 1990 by the New York Gaming Commission: “Let other horse pass inside”.
• There was a special law enforcement unit in 1985 or 1986 that was looking into bookmaking, loan-sharking or drug dealing at Woodbine.
• Beckon family lawyer John Murray also showed how a sealed urine bottle can be tampered with and the security of the sealed bottles can be circumvented in about 14 minutes.
• Rick Cowan was track security at Woodbine.
• Coroner Dr. Jim Young said Constable Ken Ruttan, who was in hospital at the time of the inquest with chest pains, may never be able to give evidence and ruled he doesn’t have to testify.
• There was a mysterious man who was never identified who said he information on the blue car seen at the death scene.
• The Ontario Jockey Club agreed to pay $200,000 to an anonymous man on information on the individual seen in the blue car.
• However, part of the OJC’s offer were 15 separate conditions.
• One condition said he would only get paid if his information proved useful “In a material way.”
• That meant that the man would have to be able to say whether Beckon had committed suicide or been murdered.
• He said he didn’t know that but only knew the identities of the two men seen at the scene in the blue car.
• Why would the OJC insist on that clause when it’s clear he never said he knew if they did or didn’t murder Beckon or if it was a suicide?
• Why did the Ontario Jockey Club and Ontario Racing Commission fight so hard for the inquest to declare the death a suicide?
• Beckon had two insurance policies totaling $85,000, but neither pay off in the event of a suicide verdict.

Part 1 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide?

Part 2 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? (Part 2)



One thought on “Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? Part 3

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