Court upholds conviction after Nanaimo man claims 42-month wait for verdict unreasonable

William Michael Curry drug case among the first to respond to a new Supreme Court 30-month ceiling on trial delays

A 42-month delay in getting to trial will not affect the drug trafficking conviction of a Nanaimo man.

But his case could have an impact on how courts will rule on what constitutes a reasonable delay in the future.

On Aug. 2, Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes rejected William Michael Curry’s request for a stay of proceedings based on his Charter of Rights and Freedoms right to be tried within a reasonable time.

Curry’s lawyer argued the Crown failed to take obvious measures to move the matter ahead in a timely fashion. But Holmes ruled exceptional circumstances contributed to the delay in the trial’s conclusion, including the revelation that Curry’s co-accused, Brandy Lawrence, was expected to deliver a baby during a scheduled trial date in April.

On July 8 Holmes had convicted Curry of possession of crack cocaine for the purpose of trafficking as well as charges of simple possession of methamphetamine and heroin.

The case was noteworthy because Holmes convicted Curry on the same day a Supreme Court of Canada ruling known as R. v. Jordan set the reasonable ceiling for provincial court cases at 18 months and superior court cases at 30 months, except when caused by the defence, or when exceptional circumstances apply.

Curry was first arrested on Jan. 10, 2013, but proceedings were stayed in April of that year, then revised charges were laid in August. The Crown argued that a four-month period between the stay and the new charges should not count as part of the delay, but the judge disagreed because charges were not withdrawn during that period.

“There is no reason to conclude that the stay of proceedings put an end to the “stress, anxiety, and stigma” flowing from the charges,” she wrote.

Crown also argued that any delays caused by a co-accused must also be accounted for because of a risk the parties could conspire to use the new ceiling as a means to have their procedures stayed.

But Holmes concluded there was no evidence of collusion in the Lawrence-caused delays — which the Crown calculated as 8 1/2 months in total — and since they were not caused by Curry’s defence, they should not be subtracted from his total delay.

However, she did conclude the delay was mitigated due to exceptional circumstances, including the extension of a separate case that made the judge unavailable for one scheduled trial date, a misunderstanding between Lawrence and her counsel tied to her mode of trial, and the revelation that Lawrence was pregnant and due to deliver during another scheduled date.

Couple that with the Supreme Court ruling making allowances for a transitional period between the previous standard and the one established by the Jordan case, and Holmes decided the delays in Curry’s case were acceptable given the circumstances detailed above and what was then the standard of law.

“Taking into account what I view as reasonable reliance on the state of the law at the time, I cannot view the delay in concluding Mr. Curry’s trial as unreasonable.”

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMcKinleyBP

Just Posted

Rain ahead for Monday

Plus a look ahead at the week

Guilty verdict for man accused of setting fire to his Esquimalt rental property

Wei Li was arrested at airport with burns to face and hands

North Saanich resident fears for pedestrians near neighbourhood roundabout

Gerald Donaldson also frustrated with driving behaviour in McTavish roundabout

Oak Bay to complete LED switchover of 1,506 street lamps

Electricians to install final 356 steet lamps

Claremont Secondary is plotting the biggest Halloween party in town

School’s Screamfest event marks 11 years in Saanich

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Camera licker, wind gusts and rare bird make headlines this weekend

Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s mural defaced in Edmonton

The eyes on the portrait were blacked out

LETTER: Middle class better off with Trudeau’s child benefit boost

It’s a transfer, not a tax cut, but it helps families get ahead

App designed to help cut waste and grocery bills

Food security advocates say addressing poverty is ultimate key

Report suggests new BC Ferries terminal near YVR

Metro Vancouver currently has two ferry terminals at northern and southern reaches

B.C. scouting group’s tent destroyed by black bear on Thanksgiving

The Richmond-based Sea Dragon Sea Scouts were camping at Mount Seymour Provincial Park

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

Greta Thunberg meets with First Nations chief in Fort McMurray

Thunberg has turned her protest against climate change into a global movement

Most Read