Canadian court clears Stephen Truscott of 1959 murder

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto has cleared Stephen Truscott of murder charges, nearly a half century after the controversial Canadian crime case began.

Truscott was charged and convicted at the age of 14 for the rape and killing of 12-year-old Lynne Harper near Clinton, Ontario in 1959. He was initially sentenced to death but the Canadian government reduced it to life imprisonment in 1960. He was granted parole and released from prison in 1969.

After living under an alternate identity for many years, Truscott began to work towards an appeal of his murder conviction. Truscott won his appeal when the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision was released on Tuesday. This judgment was based on a review of evidence which cast considerable doubt on the prosecution's original case such as the timing of Lynne Harper's death.

The Ontario government has started a process to determine an appropriate amount of compensation to Truscott for his years living under a criminal record.


Cquote1.svg Based on evidence that qualifies as fresh evidence in these proceedings, we are satisfied that Mr. Truscott’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice and must be quashed. We are satisfied that were a new trial possible, the acquittal of Mr. Truscott, while not the only possible verdict, would clearly be the more likely result given the entirety of the material presently available. That conclusion causes us to exercise our remedial discretion in favour of ordering an acquittal. Cquote2.svg

—Ontario Court of Appeal, in overturning Truscott's murder conviction , [1]


Although the court has stated that Truscott was a victim of a miscarriage of justice, it also ruled that it could not declare him innocent of the crime based on the evidence. Truscott's lawyers had asked for the ruling on innocence, as the determination could have an affect on the awarding of compensation.

Truscott commented on his relief that capital punishment had been abolished in Canada, as "there are so many wrongfully convicted in this country and they're simply just swept under the rug."


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