(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)

B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

  • Apr. 17, 2021 9:00 a.m.

-Kamloops This Week

A man charged in connection with Valentine’s Day robbery and kidnapping spree in Kamloops in 2019 has died in custody, while awaiting trial. Kamloops This Week has learned that Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam on March 12.

Rennie, 33, had a bail hearing the day before his death, which was adjourned. The charges against him were stayed by the Crown on the afternoon of March 12.

Both the BC Coroner’s Service and BC Corrections confirmed a death occurred at the facility on March 12, but did not confirm the person’s identity, citing privacy reasons. Another source confirmed to KTW the deceased was, in fact, Rennie.

While they would not confirm the identity, BC Corrections and BC Coroners said they are investigating the March 12 death.

“BC Corrections is investigating and will complete a review of the circumstances,” a spokesperson for BC Corrections told KTW in an email.

The spokesperson said the coroners service is also investigating “as they do in all unexpected and/or unnatural deaths” and look to determine how, where, when and by what means the individual came to their death. It is not clear at this time how Rennie died.

“As this is an open investigation, we are unable to provide any additional information,” a BC Coroners spokesperson told KTW via email.

Rennie had been on the lam for nearly a year when he was arrested by Vancouver Police during a 2 a.m. traffic stop on March 1. He was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for charges of armed robbery with a firearm, forcible confinement and an assault causing bodily harm — all stemming from the Valentine’s Day incident in 2019. Rennie was one of three men arrested in connection with a series of incidents, involving robbery, kidnapping and assault, spanning between Feb.13 and Feb. 14.

The other two men — Michael Mathieson and Justin Daniels — have since been sentenced.

Mathieson, 38, is serving six-and-a-half years in a federal prison, while Daniels, 40, pleaded guilty last August and was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in a federal penitentiary.

The robbery and kidnapping took place in the midst of a violent gang war and involved people active in the Kamloops drug trade. Police stumbled upon the kidnapping in progress in the early-morning hours of Feb. 14, 2019, while monitoring a wiretap as part of a separate, ongoing investigation. The violent spree began hours earlier, when a man was beaten and robbed inside a suite at a Sahali motel.

That was followed by a visit to a downtown motel, where assailants held a couple against their will and lured an acquaintance to the scene with the promise of money. The target arrived with his girlfriend and another man and both men were robbed, with the woman taken against her will to Kelowna. There, she she was handed over to a driver to be taken back to Kamloops and, on the drive back, she was rescued by police during a high-risk traffic stop in Falkland.

Mathieson, Rennie and Daniels were arrested separately on three different days later that month.

Rennie, who had obtained bail following his arrest, fled from a halfway house in April 2020 and failed to show up for his trial last September, before being apprehended this past March.

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