Jackson abduction trial comes down to a single question, jury hears

A jury heard closing arguments on the abduction trial of Michael Gordon Jackson on Thursday. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post.

Both Michael Gordon Jackson and the Crown agree his trial turns on whether he intended to deprive his ex-wife of possession of their daughter when he took the seven-year-old on the run.

Brandon Harder, Regina Leader-Post

A jury heard Thursday that the case against Michael Gordon Jackson, a man who took his child on the run across Western Canada, hinges on one fundamental question:

Did he intend to deprive his ex-wife of the child?

Jackson, 55, stands charged with what amounts to abduction in contravention of a custody order. The charge is dated between Dec. 6, 2021 and Jan. 21, 2022.

Ultimately, Jackson was arrested and the girl was taken into police custody when they were located in Vernon, B.C. in late February of 2022.

The full charge, as spelled out in the indictment, alleges that Jackson took the girl with intent to deprive his ex-wife of their child.

He pleaded not guilty when his trial began in Regina’s Court of King’s Bench on April 8.

Jurors have heard repeatedly throughout the trial, including from the accused man himself, that he took the girl on the run in an effort to stop her from being vaccinated for COVID-19. He believed his ex-wife would have the child vaccinated, which he felt could result in harm.

The jury heard it again and again Thursday morning from the self-represented man, who made his own closing argument.

“I did what I did solely to protect my daughter from being vaccinated,” he said.

The Crown, he added, had proven his case for him. He led jurors through the Crown’s witnesses, telling them the testimony of all these individuals corroborated his assertion. There’s no evidence to prove otherwise, beyond a reasonable doubt, he contended.

Prosecutor Zoey Kim-Zeggelaar acknowledged that preventing the girl from being vaccinated was certainly Jackson’s stated intention. However, she asked jurors to consider whether Jackson could intend to stop his daughter from being vaccinated without also intending to deprive the mother of possession of the girl.

She called keeping the child from her mother a “necessary twin” to his stated intention.

The jury, she said, heard evidence of a “bad” divorce, an “ugly custody battle,” and the fact that Jackson didn’t have decision-making power with respect to the girl’s health, though he was meant to be consulted.

Jackson talked about the efforts he’d made for “eight months” prior to his disappearance, researching the vaccine and trying to establish dialogue with his ex-wife about the issue. He was “pleading” with her, he said.

Jackson pointed to a document he’d submitted to the jury that showed Health Canada information available to him at the relevant time about “serious effects” of the vaccine.

“Why would I allow any harm to my daughter, if I had the choice to stop it?”

His wife refused to follow a court order requiring consultation, he said, noting this “forced” the situation.

Kim-Zeggelaar put to the jury that Jackson had his input and made his position clear when he didn’t return the girl at the time. She said he was “frustrated with the process” and “fed up with the courts” in addition to not being satisfied with the answer of his ex-wife that she would follow the guidance of the Saskatchewan Health Authority

“He took the control back, and he took the law into his own hands,” Kim-Zeggelaar said.

The prosecutor pointed to Jackson’s pre-disappearance requirement for return of the child: that the girl’s mother provide him with a letter stating her intention with respect to vaccination. But when his ex-wife later signed an affidavit stating she wouldn’t vaccinate the girl, the prosecutor said Jackson called it a “half-assed legal document,” and it did not result in the return of the girl.

He’d testified he didn’t view the affidavit as a “bulletproof” guarantee that the child wouldn’t be vaccinated, as he’d heard it would still be up to a court.

Kim-Zeggelaar read words written by Jackson to police during negotiation for the child’s return: “Never seeing her mother again would be a benefit, not a loss.”

If not for the actions of police, it’s unclear how long Jackson and the girl would’ve been at large, the prosecutor said, noting Jackson did not turn himself in but was rather arrested.

Kim-Zeggelaar stated she felt the Crown had proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt and left it to the jury to decide whether they agree.

Jackson reminded the jury that, if they have any doubt, they must find him not guilty.

“Based on all evidence presented,” he said, “I therefore humbly ask you to acquit me of the criminal charges against me.”

The jury is expected to begin deliberation Friday.