Considerable deference was owed to trial judge’s assessment of evidence

Supreme court | Criminal Law

Post-trial procedure

Appeal from conviction or acquittal

Considerable deference was owed to trial judge’s assessment of evidence

40 years ago, accused sexually abused his nephews and niece, but latter did not report him to the police until 2009. Accused was charged with indecent assault and gross indecency. Trial judge found victims’ evidence to be reliable and credible and found accused’s evidence to be not reliable. Accused was convicted as charged. Accused appealed, arguing that trial judge made several errors and rendered unreasonable verdict. Majority at Court of Appeal noted that to be successful, accused had to show that verdict was not verdict that properly instructed jury, acting judicially, could reasonably have rendered or that trial judge’s reasoning process was so irrational, or so at odds with evidence, that it vitiated verdict. In present case, considerable deference was owed to trial judge’s assessment of evidence. In particular, trial judge did not err in finding that accused was not credible. Trial judge did not err by relying on testimony of victims, albeit given 40 years after fact. His findings were well explained and appeal was dismissed. Accused appealed to Supreme Court of Canada. Appeal dismissed. Appeal should be dismissed for reasons of majority of Court of Appeal.
R. c. Savard (2017), 2017 CarswellQue 2095, 2017 CarswellQue 2096, 2017 SCC 21, 2017 CSC 21, Wagner J., Gascon J., Côté J., Brown J., and Rowe J. (S.C.C.); affirmed (2016), 2016 CarswellQue 1699, 2016 QCCA 380, Chamberland J.C.A., Morin J.C.A., and Dutil J.C.A. (C.A. Que.).

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