Ontario Criminal

Criminal Law

Post-trial procedure

Appeal from conviction or acquittal

Accused’s appeal from conviction for forgery and fraud was dismissed

Accused was bookkeeper/accountant for large company. In eight-week period 97 cheques, totalling over one million dollars, were issued with forged signature of company’s vice president. Accused was convicted of forgery and fraud. Accused appealed conviction on basis, inter alia, that verdict was unreasonable. Appeal dismissed. Basis of grounds of appeal was complainant’s evidence that he agreed he signed some cheques to fraudulent payees during period when forged cheques were all signed. Accused submitted that trial judge was not entitled to discount that evidence and explain why he did not accept it, but had to treat it as raising reasonable doubt and require Crown to rebut defence of complicity. Trial judge thoroughly reviewed evidence and analyzed in particular accused’s credibility in light of that testimony. He concluded that in light of rest of complainant’s evidence and whole of evidence, evidence could be explained by passage of time, witness’ anger at being defrauded, and language difficulties. There was no error in trial judge’s approach. He was entitled to accept all or some of witness’ evidence. He gave clear reasons for his conclusions. His findings were accorded deference. There was no basis on which to set aside verdict.

R. v. Atwal (2017), 2017 CarswellOnt 3919, 2017 ONCA 228, K. Feldman J.A., K. van Rensburg J.A., and G. Pardu J.A. (Ont. C.A.); affirmed (2015), 2015 CarswellOnt 10648, 2015 ONSC 4425, Hill J. (Ont. S.C.J.). (Ont. C.A.); affirmed (2016), 2016 CarswellOnt 9515, 2016 ONSC 3668, Hill J. (Ont. S.C.J.).

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