Some of accused’s statements to undercover officer were admissible

Ontario criminal | Evidence

CONFESSIONS AND ADMISSIONS

Some of accused’s statements to undercover officer were admissible

Application by Crown for ruling as to admissibility of statements made by accused to undercover police officer. Crown tendered four audio recordings of conversations between accused and officer. Accused was charged with first degree murder of his girlfriend. Crown alleged that accused and victim lived together in common law relationship and they were parents of a boy. Victim went missing on December 4, 2010. Accused did not report her missing but on December 11, 2010 her sister called police and reported that victim had been missing for week. Police interviewed accused several times over next year. Recordings were made in June, July, August and September 2012. Accused was known basketball player and fan and officer portrayed himself as basketball enthusiast. Officer pretended to be living with girlfriend who had mental health issues. He told accused that he felt trapped in that relationship and he wanted to get out of it. Officer also said that he and girlfriend had four-year-old daughter. Two hunters found skeletal remains of victim on September 21, 2012, which was after last recording was made. Application allowed in part. Accused’s statements to officer regarding possible ways to kill person, how to dispose of dead body and how to cover up crime were not admissible. Victim was not killed by any of methods discussed by accused with officer. Methods that accused discussed was merely non-specific generalized talk and it was irrelevant. Much of conversation between accused and officer was boastful locker room talk and it was not reliable. Advice that accused provided to officer about disposing of dead body and covering up killing was not reflected in condition of victim’s remains. This evidence was also unreliable and it had little probative value. His statements regarding nature of his relationship with victim, including his animus towards her, were admissible. Crown and defence counsel were to attempt to agree on best way to edit audio recordings so as to eliminate inadmissible parts of conversations. Much of routine mundane conversations were not to be edited out as those portions were necessary for jury to understand relationship between accused and officer and context of discussions.
R. v. Sharples (Jul. 8, 2015, Ont. S.C.J., J.R. Henderson J., File No. 38/14) 124 W.C.B. (2d) 25.

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