Court upholds conviction after Nanaimo man claims 42-month wait for verdict unreasonable

Court upholds conviction after Nanaimo man claims 42-month wait for verdict unreasonable

William Michael Curry drug case among the first to respond to a new Supreme Court 30-month ceiling on trial delays

A 42-month delay in getting to trial will not affect the drug trafficking conviction of a Nanaimo man.

But his case could have an impact on how courts will rule on what constitutes a reasonable delay in the future.

On Aug. 2, Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes rejected William Michael Curry’s request for a stay of proceedings based on his Charter of Rights and Freedoms right to be tried within a reasonable time.

Curry’s lawyer argued the Crown failed to take obvious measures to move the matter ahead in a timely fashion. But Holmes ruled exceptional circumstances contributed to the delay in the trial’s conclusion, including the revelation that Curry’s co-accused, Brandy Lawrence, was expected to deliver a baby during a scheduled trial date in April.

On July 8 Holmes had convicted Curry of possession of crack cocaine for the purpose of trafficking as well as charges of simple possession of methamphetamine and heroin.

The case was noteworthy because Holmes convicted Curry on the same day a Supreme Court of Canada ruling known as R. v. Jordan set the reasonable ceiling for provincial court cases at 18 months and superior court cases at 30 months, except when caused by the defence, or when exceptional circumstances apply.

Curry was first arrested on Jan. 10, 2013, but proceedings were stayed in April of that year, then revised charges were laid in August. The Crown argued that a four-month period between the stay and the new charges should not count as part of the delay, but the judge disagreed because charges were not withdrawn during that period.

“There is no reason to conclude that the stay of proceedings put an end to the “stress, anxiety, and stigma” flowing from the charges,” she wrote.

Crown also argued that any delays caused by a co-accused must also be accounted for because of a risk the parties could conspire to use the new ceiling as a means to have their procedures stayed.

But Holmes concluded there was no evidence of collusion in the Lawrence-caused delays — which the Crown calculated as 8 1/2 months in total — and since they were not caused by Curry’s defence, they should not be subtracted from his total delay.

However, she did conclude the delay was mitigated due to exceptional circumstances, including the extension of a separate case that made the judge unavailable for one scheduled trial date, a misunderstanding between Lawrence and her counsel tied to her mode of trial, and the revelation that Lawrence was pregnant and due to deliver during another scheduled date.

Couple that with the Supreme Court ruling making allowances for a transitional period between the previous standard and the one established by the Jordan case, and Holmes decided the delays in Curry’s case were acceptable given the circumstances detailed above and what was then the standard of law.

“Taking into account what I view as reasonable reliance on the state of the law at the time, I cannot view the delay in concluding Mr. Curry’s trial as unreasonable.”

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMcKinleyBP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ron MacDonnell leans over the railing on Beacon Wharf Tuesday afternoon. The Town of City is currently looking into the future of the aging structure. It could make way for a concrete pontoon once part of the floating bridge over Hood Canal in Washington State. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney explores public-private partnership for iconic Beacon Wharf

Wharf committee recommends town invite pontoon company to submit proposal

Victoria police are seeking home surveillance video and witnesses following a prowling incident in Esquimalt Jan. 20. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prowler removes air conditioner, peers into person’s home

VicPD is seeking video footage, witnesses following Jan. 20 incident

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch 94-year-old in Saanich earns permanent Canadian residency

Couple of 45 years to stay together in Cadboro Bay

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(File)
Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

(File Photo)
Interior Health says COVID positivity rates in Fernie area actually 10-12%

IH say the rates are not as high as previously claimed by the region’s top doctor

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Chief says push for fish farm judicial review a challenge to reconciliation, Aboriginal Rights

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

Most Read