Smiley face
Weather     Live Markets

A mother from Nova Scotia is advocating for more attention to be paid to the rights of victims and complainants after sexual offence charges were stayed due to delays in court proceedings. The alleged incidents involved children aged six and nine in February 2021. The mother expressed disappointment in the justice system and called for more support for complainants, as well as the hiring of additional judges to assist those in need.

The accused, Brandon William McNeil, had pleaded not guilty to multiple sexual offence charges in a trial that concluded in October 2021, but a verdict was never delivered due to the original trial judge going on leave of absence. A mistrial was declared in February 2023, and an application was made to have the charges stayed due to excessive delays. The courts ultimately decided to stay the charges in June 2023, prompting the mother to describe the process as an “abhorrent waiting game.”

A subsequent appeal was filed, arguing that the delays were unreasonable, but the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal upheld the decision to stay the charges. The panel stated that the delays were longer than reasonable in the circumstances, with uncertainty surrounding the trial judge’s return from leave. The children’s mother expressed feeling let down by the justice system and is considering taking the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada to seek justice for her children and future complainants.

In 2023, the Nova Scotia Judiciary confirmed a backlog of cases and a shortage of judges in the province. The full complement of judges is 28, which had not changed in many years, and there was a higher-than-normal retirement rate at the time. While there are currently no vacancies in the system, there remains one judge on long-term leave. The original trial judge in this case, Judge Rickcola Brinton, is suing the provincial court and former chief judge for allegedly violating her rights to judicial independence and medical privacy.

The mother of the children described the situation as frustrating, believing that the courts should have taken action sooner to prevent the lack of justice for her children. She emphasized the importance of focusing on the well-being of her children while considering further legal options to pursue the case. Despite the challenges faced in the legal system, she remains hopeful that seeking justice will not only benefit her children but also provide hope for other future complainants in similar situations.

© 2024 Globe Echo. All Rights Reserved.