New murder trial ordered for ex-soldier
TORONTO — Ontario’s top court has ordered a new murder trial for an ex-soldier who walked free because his case took too long to be heard.
The Crown had appealed a judge’s decision to stay a first-degree murder charge against Adam Picard under new time limits established by the Supreme Court of Canada last summer.
It also alleged Ontario Superior Court Justice Julianne Parfett mischaracterized the nature of the delays, failed to consider the complexity of the case and did not properly account for a transitional period in applying the new rules.
Picard was arrested in December 2012 in the killing of 28-year-old Fouad Nayel, who police believe died the day he went missing in June of that year.
The trial was set to begin in 2016 when the murder charge was stayed in a surprise decision.
In a ruling released Thursday, the Court of Appeal for Ontario said it would be unfair to hold the Crown to the time limits established in the landmark R v Jordan ruling since they came into effect long after Picard’s case began.
These rules state that cases heard in provincial court should go to trial within 18 months and those heard in Superior Court should do so within 30 months, once delays caused solely by the defence or by unpredictable events have been subtracted. If the time frame exceeds those limits, the Crown must demonstrate that the delay was reasonable.
“I acknowledge that this case exhibits some of the delay concerns that Jordan sought to address,” Justice Paul Rouleau wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.
“Had the charges been laid and prosecuted under the Jordan regime from the outset, the overall time needed to bring the case to trial combined with the Crown’s refusal to agree to a trial on the first available dates in the Superior Court would, in my view, have resulted in a stay.”
However, working under the pre- vious rules, “a court would not, weighing the length of the delay, the reasons for the delay, the significant prejudice to the accused and the societal interest, consider the delay to be unreasonable.”
Picard’s lawyers had argued Parfett’s decision should be upheld. They argue prosecutors were unavailable for a long stretch of last year, causing up to eight months of delays.
Murder charges against Adam Picard, above, were stayed in 2016 because the case took too long to get to court, but have been reinstated upon appeal.