It is shaping up to be a busy year for the Supreme Court Appeals division, as rulings are expected in several high profile cases.
In November, the Court of Appeal heard a Crown argument against the Anne Norris verdict after she was found Not Criminally Responsible for the bludgeoning death of Marcel Reardon in 2016. It was never in question that Norris killed Reardon – but the question is if she was mentally ill at the time. But the Crown argues the judge wrongly excluded key evidence, including statements Norris made to an undercover police officer while in jail. The court has reserved judgement until later this year.
In May, Brandon Philips filed an appeal of his second-degree murder conviction for the shooting death of Larry Wellman in 2015. Among the grounds is the “reasonableness of the verdict”, the lack of a motive, and the circumstantial evidence that lead to the identity of Philips. They are also appealing the search and seizure application and a directed verdict application. Philips is serving life in prison without chance of parole for 12 years.
In April, a former taxi driver appealed his conviction for breaking into a woman’s home. He says the judge didn’t like him. Luizim Jakupaj, 34, was convicted in 2016 of breaking into a woman’s home in Kilbride. He got four years for that. In his application for an appeal he says it was an unreasonable verdict, driven by the judges dislike for him. Jakupaj says that bias was to blame for his guilty verdict and he wants a new trial.
Sofyan Boalag also wants a new trial. He notified the court more than a year ago that he was appealing his sexual assault convictions and the resulting dangerous offender designation. Boalag dosen’t have a lawyer and the court of appeal has yet to determine how to deal with his application. The 38-year-old was sentenced to an indeterminate prison in 2016 for sexually assaulting two women and a 15-year-old girl.
Meanwhile, the Crown is appealing this years acquittal of a former Anglican priest who was facing child pornography charges. Convicted child sex offender Robin Barrett, 58, was acquitted after a Supreme Court justice ruled that most of the evidence in the case wasn’t admissible because police breached his rights. As a result, all the evidence was tossed out. The Crown says the judge was wrong in excluding that evidence and are asking for a new trial.
The appeal court has ordered a new trial for former RNC officer Doug Snelgrove, acquitted last year of sexual assault. However, he is taking the fight to prevent the case from going to court to Canada’s top court. Last spring, the Crown decided to appeal the not guilty verdict. The appeal was based on the judge’s lack of direction to the jury and what it believed to have been an incorrect interpretation of the term consent. Cst. Snelgrove was accused of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman while on duty in the winter of 2014. After a two week trial in February of 2017, a jury found Snelgrove not guilty, acquitting the RNC officer of his single count of sexual assault, prompting protests.