Ontario top court rules accused killer freed due to court delays must stand trial
Published Thursday, September 7, 2017 11:32AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 7, 2017 11:31PM EDT
Ontario’s top court has ruled that a former Canadian soldier accused of murder, who was set free due to years of court delays, must stand trial.
“It’s been hell, but at least today, it’s the first positive sign for me,” the victim’s mother, Nicole Nayel, told CTV News on Thursday.
Ex-soldier Adam Picard was arrested in December of 2012 and charged with the killing of 28-year-old Fouad Nayel, who went missing in June of that year.
The Ottawa man’s decomposed body was eventually found in a wooded area near Calabogie, in the Upper Ottawa Valley, in November 2012. It was discovered that he had been shot twice in the back.
Picard was charged with first-degree murder in Nayel’s death in December 2012. He spent four years in custody before an Ontario Superior Court judge, Justice Julianne Parfett, stayed the charge under the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on set time limits for trials, known as the Jordan decision, which were introduced last summer.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s new rules state that cases must go to trial within 18 months in provincial court and within 30 months for those heard in Superior Court, unless the Crown can prove the delays were reasonable.
In her decision, Parfett ruled that Picard’s rights to be “tried within a reasonable time” had been infringed. Picard was released in November 2016.
Prosecutors appealed Parfett’s decision to stay the first-degree murder charge in the Ontario Court of Appeal, with the Crown arguing that the Ontario judge mischaracterized the nature of the delays and didn’t consider the complexity of the case.
Today’s appeal ruling agreed, saying that the “trial judge erred” in her application of the Jordan decision, not taking the “seriousness of the offence” into account or the “transitional period” for cases already in progress before Jordan.
“After getting the phone call, I’m very happy,” Nicole Nayel said. “I’m very confident now that we’re going to get justice.”
The family, however, believes that when Picard was set free, the system let them down.
“We're treated like a piece of garbage, and this has got to change,” Fouad’s father, Amine Nayel, said.
“It's not only our case,” Nicole Nayel added. “There's other cases (that are) going to be affected too.”
So far, more than 200 cases have been stayed under the Jordan decision and thousands more could be too, prompting calls for the government to speed up the judicial process.
“They have to look at the judicial vacancies, ensure that the judges are appointed on a regular basis,” Conservative justice critic Rob Nicholson recently said.
But a solution, Marco Mendocino, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, says, will take time.
“There's no one silver bullet to solving this problem.”
With files from CTV National News Parliament Hill correspondent Kevin Gallagher and The Canadian Press