OTTAWA - The lead investigator in the suicide of a Canadian soldier is blaming the Alberta medical examiner for the fact that the dead man was left hanging for 90 minutes after he was found.
Sgt. Matthew Ritco has told a public inquiry that the coroner was in charge and military police were only there to conduct a parallel investigation and to rule out foul play.
He also defended concealing Cpl. Stuart Langridge's suicide from his family, saying he wasn't certain at the time whether it was authentic or not.
Langridge's parents, whose complaint sparked the inquiry, are outraged their son's body was left to dangle from a chin-up bar while investigators looked for evidence.
They also want to know why it took 14 months for military officials to tell them about a suicide note Langridge left behind.
Ritco says the medical examiner was in charge of the scene and didn't tell police to cut the body down.
Coroner Dennis Caulfield has already told the inquiry that he only needed a few minutes to take a few photos and some notes.
The Military Police Complaints Commission is examining the parents' claim that the investigation into Langridge's death in 2008 was biased and intended to exonerate the Canadian Forces.
Langridge's suicide note said he could no longer stand the pain, and asked that only a small, private memorial service be held.
Instead, a large service, including the military, was held in Edmonton.
The commission's lawyer asked what the harm would have been to disclose the note with the qualification that they were investigating whether it was authentic.
Ritco says the note was considered evidence and military police had no policy for something like that.
Some time later, he met with the 28-year-old veteran's parents — Shaun and Sheila Fynes — and still didn't tell them about the note.
In hindsight, that was a mistake, Ritco said Thursday.