By Melissa Bennardo and Maggie Macintosh

The lawyer representing a Toronto police officer facing charges related to the investigation into serial killer Bruce McArthur has requested an independent judge preside over his client’s case.

Sgt. Paul Gauthier, who is expected to be charged with insubordination and neglect of duty involving an incident with McArthur in 2016, did not make an appearance at a scheduled disciplinary hearing Feb. 5. His first appearance in front of the disciplinary tribunal has been pushed back three weeks, to Feb. 26.

McArthur was arrested in 2018. He pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder last week.

During the hearing, Gauthier’s lawyer, Lawrence Gridin, said he intended to make a submission in support of a request that an independent judge preside over the case moving forward instead of Supt. Richard Hegedus. Tribunals are usually presided by a hearing officer.

“This is a matter obviously that has some sensitivity, it’s a matter of great public interest … and accordingly, I think that this is a matter that deserves the transparency and accountability that the Toronto Police Service strives for and that can only be achieved with the appointment of a judge,” Gridin said.

Gridin said that Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders gave a press conference to “downplay rumours of a serial killer operating in the Gay Village” in December 2017. He said officers repeatedly denied there was evidence connecting those who went missing from the neighbourhood.

Service prosecutor Alexandra Ciobotaru interrupted Gridin and told him to focus on the specific officer at hand.

Ciobotaru said the hearing wasn’t the appropriate time to go into detail about previous press conferences or what is going on in criminal court at this time. “There will be a time and a place where we can get into those,” she added.

Hegedus said Gridin’s request for an independent judge was noted.

After Tuesday’s proceedings, Gridin declined to comment further about his client’s case or whereabouts.

“I’m also very mindful that today, about a kilometre away from where we’re standing, people are giving their victim impact statements and those voices should be heard today, not mine,” he said.

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