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the stay and the new charges should not count as part of the delay, but the judge disagreed because charges were not withdrawn during that period.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

Update on Port McNeill’s Beach Drive landslide

Port McNeill has a history of landslides, due to the steep embankment above Beach Drive.

Port Alice loses four volunteer fire fighters

The village has only nine active members left.

Port Hardy Fire Rescue gains eight new recruits

Port Hardy Fire Rescue is still accepting applications for more personnel to join the team.

7 Mile Landfill Sundays not profitable

RDMW to reconsider September Sunday hours

Cottonwood tree causes North Island power outage

BC Hydro’s local crew responded to the outage immediately with a ground patrol to identify the outage

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

B.C. NDP convention set for Victoria

Premier, federal leader Jagmeet Singh to add energy

Ninth annual Mount Waddington Highland Dance Association’s Fall Competition results

During intermission, the audience was treated to a traditional First Nations welcome dance.

A Brush with Henschel: A last blaze of colour

In autumn, the predominant colour varies all the way from a light lemon yellow to a rusty orange.

Silver Creek farm search expands north

RCMP were seen collecting evidence three kilometres north of the farm where human remains were found

INTERACTIVE MAP: Follow the 2017 Tour de Rock

Follow the Tour de Rock, as they pedal more than 1,000 kilometres fundraising to combat paediatric cancer

Bantams go 1-1 on the road against Clippers and Bulldogs

Coach Ryan Handley confirmed the Eagles will be playing in VIAHA’s tier 2 division this season.

VIDEO: Motorcycle catches fire in Nanaimo traffic

Motorcyclist takes fast action to get burning bike off the road along the old Island Highway

Nanaimo man assaulted, tied up and robbed at his home

Incident occurred about 7 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23 at a home on Beverly Drive

Most Read