Friend of deceased testifies at Coroner's Inquest yesterday

Yesterday, jurors at the inquest into the death of Larry McPherson while in police custody were able to gain more knowledge of his actions in the days before his death.

Todd Gobout, a friend who had been staying with McPherson during the days leading up to his encounter with police, appeared before the inquest via videoconference. Gobout, who was on crutches, said he had become an acquaintance of McPherson when he had dated McPherson’s sister 2 or 3 years ago, but that the two only became friends in the last year.

Gobout testified that he and McPherson had been working for Whitebear Industries and living in camp at Sikanni Falls when they grew unhappy with their foreman and quit. He said the two had planned to return to Fort St. John and “party” for an evening, then return to Terrace the next day. However, he said the two ended up staying in Fort St. John for what he described as two or three days, hanging out at the mall and local bars and waiting for their paycheques.

When they did get paid on August 25th, Gobout said the two went to a nightclub called The Wet Spot, where they met someone who promised to deliver them crack cocaine later at their room at the Caravan Motel. Inquest Council Mitch Houg asked Gobout about McPherson’s drug history. Gobout stated that McPherson was a frequent user of crack cocaine. Gobout said he and McPherson went back to their hotel room to await the delivery of the drugs, but the person who arrived at the door was not the person they had ordered the drugs from, so they threw him out. Minutes later, the man returned with the person they had ordered drugs from and an exchange of money and drugs took place. Gobout testified that over the next two hours, McPherson had consumed the majority of the “eightball” of crack cocaine. Gobout added that this was an excessive amount to consume in short a short time, saying, “I wouldn’t be able to do that much in two hours.” He stated that McPherson had a tendency to be paranoid when high, but that he was unable to get a sense of McPherson’s demeanor after doing these drugs, because he had been in the bathroom most of the time.

Gobout said that approximately two hours after the delivery of the drugs, there was a knock on the door. Gobout said that when he responded, the two men from earlier, plus another man, came in and began threatening to assault McPherson. Gobout then remembered McPherson swinging a TV around by its cord, smashing a window in the process but also intimidating the three men, who quickly left. Gobout said that McPherson then left to hide his money, as he was afraid the men would return. Gobout said he was still being questioned by police about the broken window at the hotel when McPherson returned. The two then moved hotels to the Cedar Lodge, where Gobout says they stayed for two days. Gobout remembered McPherson as still being unduly paranoid during this time; he says McPherson thought that someone was trying to poison him. He also said that during those two days McPherson had spoken with his mother and sister and planned on returning home to Terrace.

Gobout testified that the two had obtained a payday loan during their stay at the Cedar Lodge, and that they used this money to buy more drugs. Gobout said that McPherson had smoked nearly an “eightball” of crack and had also consumed some alcohol when they two noticed bright headlights and a large man at their window. Gobout said McPherson then fled from the room into the hallway of the motel. Gobout testified that he pursued McPherson into the lobby, where he said he was knocked down by McPherson when he tried to stop him from running. Gobout then said McPherson exited the building through a fire escape. Despite getting in a cab and driving around to look for McPherson, going to a mutual friend’s house and waiting, and calling police, hospital and McPherson’s mother, Gobout said he never saw McPherson again.

When asked if McPherson had any injuries when Godbout last saw him, Godbout insisted that McPherson was in “top shape.”

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