Crown lawyers in 1982 wrongful-conviction case didn't know any better: lawyer

VANCOUVER -- British Columbia should be off the hook in a $43-million wrongful-conviction lawsuit because prosecutors back in 1982 may not have known that withholding contradictory evidence from the accused might have hamstrung his defence, says a Crown lawyer.

See Full Article

Ivan Henry is suing the province for compensation in B.C. Supreme Court, after he was convicted on 10 sexual-assault charges and spent 27 years behind bars before his 2010 acquittal.

His lawyers have said he deserves up to $43 million in compensation.

In closing arguments on Tuesday, Crown lawyer John Hunter said the legal culture was different in the early 1980s and prosecutors weren't expected to disclose all their evidence to the defence.

"Put yourself in the shoes of a prosecutor in 1982," said Hunter. "We know now that that's what should be done. ... But I say that wasn't known then."

The undisclosed evidence included sperm samples that failed to match Henry's blood type, contradictory victim statements and a compromising hand-written letter from a complainant sent to the home address of an investigating officer.

Hunter dismissed the defence's suggestion that the case's key prosecutor, Michael Luchenko, who has since died, intentionally withheld evidence, and he understood doing so would compromise Henry's ability to defend himself in court.

"It was a different time. A prosecutor's conduct should be evaluated not on the basis of what we know now but what they knew then."

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson challenged Hunter several times, questioning the attorney's assertion that Luchenko didn't understand the implications of his actions.

"I wouldn't think it's much of a leap for a prosecutor to look at statements that have inconsistencies and think, 'Gee, that might assist the defendant,"' he told Hunter. "I can't imagine how you would come to any other conclusion."

Hinkson also noted that Henry and one of his lawyers were denied documents they specifically requested from the Crown.

Hunter responded that Henry dismissed the lawyer who requested the evidence after only a few weeks on the job and his subsequent legal counsel didn't make that exact same request.

"Henry repeated it serially," interrupted Hinkson. "Surely Mr. Luchenko must have said to himself, 'I'm not going to give them what they're asking for.' What other conclusion can I draw?"

"I don't know," replied Hunter, adding that if Henry had really wanted the documents his subsequent lawyer would have been more specific.

Henry dismissed three lawyers in quick succession and refused publicly funded legal aid for his trial and sentencing hearings, opting instead to represent himself.

"Does the decision to reject publicly funded legal assistance carry with it any responsibility?" asked Hunter.

"If he hadn't fired his lawyers who knows what might have happened."

The province is expected to wrap up its final arguments by the end of the week.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Trump says he's Israel's best White House friend

    World News CTV News
    HOLLYWOOD, FLA. -- HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than him because, unlike his predecessors, "I kept my promises." Trump energized an audience that numbered in the hundreds at the American Israeli Council National Summit in Florida by recounting his record on issues of importance to Jews, including an extensive riff on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and relocate the U.S. Source
  • North Korea says denuclearization isn't up for negotiations

    World News CTV News
    CAMEROON, CAMEROON -- North Korea said Saturday that denuclearization has "already gone out of the negotiation table" and it does not need to have lengthy talks with the United States as the end-of-year deadline set by its leader Kim Jong Un for substantial U.S. Source
  • North Korea says it carried out a 'very important test'

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, KOREA, REPUBLIC OF -- SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- North Korea said Sunday it carried out a "very important test" at its long-range rocket launch site that will have a key effect on the country's strategic position. Source
  • Bear Clan Patrol, Indigenous community watch group, opens Calgary chapter

    Canada News CBC News
    The idea behind the Bear Clan Patrol dates back to pre-colonization — Indigenous people providing security to their communities. Bear Clan Patrol first started in Winnipeg in 1992 but went on hiatus after about three years in operation. Source
  • Singh calls for government funding to maintain N.B.'s only abortion clinic

    Canada News CBC News
    Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the New Brunswick and federal governments to fund the province's only abortion clinic. "I'm calling on the provincial government to fund this important centre, but I'm also importantly calling on the federal government to use the tools that we have to enforce the Canada Health Act," Singh said at a media event at Clinic 554 in Fredericton on Saturday. Source
  • Family recalls how Florida navy base shooting victim 'died a hero'

    World News CBC News
    The family of one of the victims of Friday's shooting at a Florida naval base says the 23-year-old "died a hero," as he pointed first responders to the attacker in his last minutes of life. Joshua Watson, who had just graduated from the U.S. Source
  • Victims of Florida navy base shooting tried to stop attacker, families say

    World News CBC News
    The family of one of the victims of Friday's shooting at a Florida naval base says the 23-year-old "died a hero," as he pointed first responders to the attacker in his last minutes of life. Joshua Watson, who had just graduated from the U.S. Source
  • Victim of Florida navy base shooting pointed first responders to attacker as he was dying, family says

    World News CBC News
    The family of one of the victims of Friday's shooting at a Florida naval base says the 23-year-old "died a hero," as he pointed first responders to the attacker in his last minutes of life. Joshua Watson, who had just graduated from the U.S. Source
  • 'Very happy kids': Family, community mourn 3 children, 2 grandparents killed in house fire

    Canada News CBC News
    A rural community northwest of Edmonton is shaken following a house fire that killed three children and their grandparents. The bodies of married couple Marvin and Janet Gibbs and their three grandchildren were discovered in their Rochfort Bridge, Alta. Source
  • Family, community mourn 3 children, 2 grandparents killed in house fire

    Canada News CBC News
    A rural community northwest of Edmonton is shaken following a house fire that killed three children and their grandparents. The bodies of married couple Marvin and Janet Gibbs and their three grandchildren were discovered in their Rochfort Bridge, Alta. Source