For­mer Young Cana­di­ans of­fi­cial’s sex charges should be stayed: lawyers

Calgary Herald - - CITY - KEVIN MAR­TIN KMartin@post­media.com On Twit­ter: @KMart­inCourts

It’s taken too long to pros­e­cute for­mer Young Cana­di­ans se­nior of­fi­cial Philip Heerema, his lawyers said Thurs­day in seek­ing a stay of pro­ceed­ings.

De­fence coun­sel Ramsha Shafaq and Al­lan Fay said the 34 months that will have passed by the end of Heerema’s trial next year from the date of his ar­rest ex­ceed guide­lines set by the Supreme Court.

But Crown prose­cu­tor Martha O’Con­nor ar­gued part of the de­lay is the fault of the de­fence and shouldn’t be counted as part of an un­rea­son­able de­lay ar­gu­ment.

O’Con­nor cited a sworn af­fi­davit by co-prose­cu­tor Car­olyn Ayre say­ing Fay in­di­cated he wasn’t avail­able at any time dur­ing 2017, when the trial was sched­uled in Septem­ber 2016.

O’Con­nor told Jus­tice Keith Ya­mauchi the Crown may have con­trib­uted to the de­lay in get­ting Heerema’s case to trial, but not enough to war­rant a stay of pro­ceed­ings.

Heerema faces 20 charges in con­nec­tion with al­le­ga­tions he mo­lested boys in the Young Cana­di­ans troupe, which per­forms an­nu­ally at the Cal­gary Stam­pede Grand­stand Show.

Shafaq said the dates set for both a pre­lim­i­nary in­quiry and the trial, which is set to be­gin Jan. 15, were the ear­li­est ones of­fered by the court sys­tem.

As a re­sult, she said, Heerema’s right to be tried within a rea­son­able amount of time has been vi­o­lated and the charges should be stayed.

Fay added their client has ac­tu­ally had to en­dure an even longer de­lay, not­ing he was put un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by po­lice for al­most a year be­fore charges were laid.

The lawyer said Heerema’s lap­top and other elec­tronic de­vices were seized un­der a search war­rant.

“It was al­most a year af­ter my client’s de­vices were seized (that charges were laid),” Fay said.

Heerema also en­dured an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter he was charged.

“Ba­si­cally, the po­lice, through the press, went trolling for com­plainants,” he said.

“There were news sto­ries where the po­lice said if there are any other vic­tims out there, please come for­ward.”

In July 2016, the Supreme Court is­sued a rul­ing in which it set strict guide­lines for the time it can take for cases to make their way through the ju­di­cial sys­tem.

The na­tion’s top court said cases tried in Court of Queen’s Bench must be con­cluded within 30 months from the time a charge is laid to avoid be­ing deemed to vi­o­late the Char­ter.

Ya­mauchi re­served his de­ci­sion, in­di­cat­ing he will make a rul­ing as soon as pos­si­ble.

CTV/FILES

Philip Heerema faces 20 charges in con­nec­tion with al­le­ga­tions he mo­lested boys in the Young Cana­di­ans troupe, which per­forms an­nu­ally at the Cal­gary Stam­pede Grand­stand Show.

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