Nelson Hart was charged for the murders of his twin 3-year-old daughters, who died of drowning on August 4, 2002. He claimed that he had taken his girls, Karen and Krista, to the wharf at Little Harbour to play on the swing set. When Krista fell off of the wharf, Nelson got scared and ran for help. He didn’t know how to swim.
Nelson drove home for help. His wife Jennifer returned with him to the wharf. By the time they got there, both of their daughters were in the water. Karen was already dead and Krista died hours later in the hospital. This was a tragedy, but the Canadian police believed it was also a crime.
Join us at the quiet end for Into Gander Lake. Months after Krista and Karen’s deaths, a Mr. Big operation began with the goal of getting a confession from Nelson Hart. The first contact with Nelson for the Mr. Big sting was when one of the operatives offered to pay Nelson to help find a missing person. After that, he was asked to make deliveries on a regular basis. Nelson, who had lived his entire life in poverty, was paid very well. He began to feel like the operatives were his friends. Earning money beyond his greatest expectations, Nelson was anxious to become a full-time member of the Mr. Big gang. Eventually, he was talked into giving a confession to prove his loyalty to this fictional criminal organization.
Mr. Big sting operations have been banned in most countries. While these coerced confessions can provide compelling evidence of guilt, they are often unreliable and they have been responsible for wrongful convictions. But there are at least two sides to this story, which we will explore today.
Jennifer Hicks at her daughters’ grave
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 7
Confessions of Murder Exposing the False Confessions Created From the Mr. Big Stings Alan R. Warren
Mr. Big by Coleen Lewis and Jennifer Hicks
R. v. Hart 2014 SCC 52 Community Legal Education Association
The case of Nelson Hart: 2 girls, 3 years and a mystery ‘Mr. Big, the road to murder charges was in fact an elaborate sting,’ b