Glen Assoun sat in prison for 16 years and 11 months, wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit. This should greatly concern all of us.
I’m currently working on a more detailed post about this, but as I was writing something new occurred to me, and I decided I should do some more investigation before writing up the longer post. I should be able to check that piece of information out first thing in the morning.
For now, I just have a few odds and ends. First, when Justice James Chipman released Assoun on bail, I sent the Halifax Regional Police Department the following question:
While Glen Assoun hasn’t yet been declared innocent, the crown agreed to his release, and the strong suggestion is that he did not commit the murder he was convicted of. This obviously calls into question the Halifax Regional Police Department’s investigation of Brenda Way’s murder. An investigator told the court (in 2006, in an affidavit) that he brought evidence to the PD that Michael McGray, not Glenn Assoun, was the likely murderer, but that information was brushed off.
Does the HRPD has any comment about the Assoun investigation? Will the investigation be reviewed to see what went wrong?
Later in the day, police spokesperson Pierre Bourdages replied as follows:
With respect to the investigation into the murder of Brenda Way, we can’t confirm any details about this matter as it’s currently being reviewed by the Criminal Conviction Review Group (CCRG) of the federal Department of Justice and we must respect this process and its confidential nature.
We are co-operating with the Ministerial Directive to provide as much information as possible to meet the CCRG’s disclosure requirements while at the same time protecting the investigative integrity of on-going investigations.
Second, today Chipman’s ruling was published. You can read it here.
As you can see, Assoun’s bail conditions are quite onerous. He’s wearing an ankle bracelet. He has to report to both police and a probation officer. He’s under house arrest between 10pm and 6am. He has to tell the police about each woman he befriends. He can’t drink. He can’t go to certain areas of the town he lives in. And more. It’s a hell of a lot better than sitting in a prison cell, but Assoun is by no means a free man.
Which brings me to my third point: Assoun’s future is now in the hands of…Peter MacKay. Can you imagine? As Justice Minister, MacKay can either dally, stringing this thing out for up to five years, or he can do the right thing and take action immediately, doing what’s required to get Assoun’s conviction overturned. In practical terms that means ordering the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to hear a new appeal of Assoun’s conviction.
James Lockyer, a lawyer with the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, told me yesterday that he thought MacKay would act quickly, in “months, not years.” Lockyer broadly hinted that the evidence AIDWYC had uncovered was so compelling that there was no cause for doubt. This would certainly reflect how this case has proceeded so far.
“The new evidence is compelling,” Lockyer said in an AIDWYC press release. “It shows that the prosecution’s case had no credibility at all and proves Glen did not murder Brenda Way. It also raises disturbing questions about how such a serious failure of justice came to occur.”
I’ll have more tomorrow.
Imagine if, after being failed by the police and the rest of the justice system, one had to rely on Peter MacKay to do the right thing? Yikes!