Exit Distraction Free Reading Mode
This matter involved a widely publicized incident in which three young persons were killed in their parents’ home. The accused had been in a relationship with the eldest child. The Crown case against the accused was largely circumstantial but it also included a number of statements made by the accused in the course of a “walk through” interview and statements to a third party which may have constituted a confession. The accused was convicted of the murder of each of the victims. A number of matters were raised on appeal:
- The accused had sought and been refused a “judge only” trial pursuant to s 615 of the Criminal Code. On appeal it was contended that the length and complexity of the trial would make it unreasonably burdensome on a jury and that the extensive pre-trial publicity warranted the making of the order. It was also contended that it was wrong to apply s 615 with a predisposition in favour of a jury trial rather than a “judge alone” trial. The Court of appeal held that there had been no predisposition in favour of a jury trial and that the appellant had not discharged the onus of showing that the exercise of discretion by the trial judge had miscarried. In relation to the question of pre-trial publicity it was held that the Court should not start from the point of view that the existence of adverse pre-trial publicity will impact upon jury deliberations one way or the other. The Court should proceed upon the assumption that juries will comply with the directions of the Court in relation to any such publicity.
- In relation to the interview given by the accused to the police it was alleged that the circumstances were such that the accused was, at that time, more than a “person of interest” and as such he should have been afforded the protections afforded by s 249 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act and that those rights were interfered with when the accused’s father was removed from the interview with the accused. It was held that, in the circumstances of the case where the accused was interviewed on the day that the murders came to light, there was nothing to suggest that he was not afforded the protections required by s 249.
- In relation to the “walk through” interview it was suggested that the police had prevented the accused from having his father present during that interview, however, this too was rejected.
- In relation to the ground that the police interview was inadmissible because it took place over a period of greater than 15 hours, it was held that there was no error in admitting the evidence of the interview given that there was no indication from the recording that the accused had any difficulty during the time that the interview took place and that he had been afforded the opportunity to take breaks and that food and drink was available to him.
- The judgment of the Court of appeal also contains an interesting discussion on the admissibility of the evidence of experts concerning the existence of a foot print found at the scene and the use to which that evidence might have been put. The Court of Appeal also discussed the scope of the discretionary exclusion of evidence of that nature.
- An appeal against sentence was also dismissed.