Trial judge’s observation that witnesses “looked at” accused could not have evidentiary value

Ontario criminal | Appeal

GENERAL

Trial judge’s observation that witnesses “looked at” accused could not have evidentiary value

Appeal from conviction. Trial judge’s observation that witnesses “looked at” accused in course of their evidence could not, standing alone, have any evidentiary value. Mere act of looking at someone, particularly accused in courtroom, too equivocal to warrant finding of fact based on it. Identity was clearly in issue during trial and Crown did not ask witnesses to provide any “in dock” identification. Further, Crown counsel at trial conceded there was no evidence of identification. Circumstantial evidence did not provide basis upon which trier of fact could reasonably conclude that accused was person who attacked victim. Appeal allowed, conviction quashed and acquittal entered.
R. v. Watt (Jan. 10, 2014, Ont. C.A., Doherty J.A., Strathy J.A., and Pardu J.A., File No. CA C55666) 111 W.C.B. (2d) 141.

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