Megan Gallagher’s family and friends wanted the man accused of murdering her to appear in person for the first time.
Instead, Robert “Bobby” James Thomas, 27, appeared by phone in Saskatoon’s county court on Monday. He is charged with first degree murder.
Thomas was arrested on September 20 at a home in Prince George, BC, the fifth arrest in connection with Gallagher’s murder — but the first murder charge.
It wasn’t really an apparition, her father, Brian Gallagher, said outside the courthouse. Surrounded by supporters wearing clothes and pins emblazoned with her photo, he said he hopes Thomas will have to meet Megan’s loved ones at his next court hearing on October 6, even if it’s via video.
“What happened in court today was absolutely ridiculous and I think it hurts all her family and friends,” he said.
Supporters had a big group hug outside the court after talking to the media. They were quiet and respectful in the courtroom, for which Judge Bria Huculak praised them, especially given the emotional moment.
“He chose not to read the charges,” Brian said, fighting back tears. “For me at the time, and I don’t want to speak for everyone, but it broke me. It’s been over two years since Megan disappeared. Such treatment of the victims’ families is unacceptable.”
Thomas was remanded in custody to determine whether he will be released on bail. Bail for murder must be submitted to the Court of King’s Bench, not the county court.
The court heard that Thomas also has “numerous other charges” unrelated to Gallagher’s case.
On Monday, prosecutor Tyla Olenchuk asked for a restraining order between Thomas and the other people previously charged in connection with the case: John Wayne Sanderson, 44, Ernest Vernon Whitehead, 41, Jessica Faye Badger (Sutherland) 42, and Roderick William Sutherland, 44.
They were charged earlier this year with insulting human remains – or undue interference with a human body, buried or not – in connection with her disappearance.
Further arrests are expected as the investigation into Gallagher’s presumed death continues. Her remains have not been found to date.
Saskatoon’s deputy police chief Randy Huisman said last week that police are planning to search part of the South Saskatchewan River, which the investigators identified as an area of interest. Staff Sgt. Grant Obst of the Major Crimes Section said Thomas is known to police and has a “significant” connection to Saskatoon, despite his arrest in BC
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