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the stay and the new charges should not count as part of the delay, but the judge disagreed because charges were not withdrawn during that period.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: Car rolls over coming around corner on Campbell River street

A witness said a car that rolled over onto its roof on… Continue reading

Campbell River RCMP continue search for missing teenager

The Campbell River RCMP have received “numerous tips” on the disappearance of… Continue reading

Search continues for missing Campbell River teen

Jordan Holling, 17, went missing almost a week ago, but the community is rallying to find him

Community rallying for family of missing 17 year-old

Ground searches, meals being prepared and thousands of posters have been circulated

Restoration work on destroyed Campbell River wetland expected to be complete next year

Remediation work on sensitive wetlands south of Jubilee Parkway is expected to… Continue reading

Mirror Morning Oct. 23

For the full story:Campbell River RCMP request help locating missing youth Community… Continue reading

B.C. NDP convention set for Victoria

Premier, federal leader Jagmeet Singh to add energy

Silver Creek farm search expands north

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

VIDEO: Motorcycle catches fire in Nanaimo traffic

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

Ferries re-routed due to fluid spill at Nanaimo’s Duke Point

At least one sailing from Tsawwassen to Duke Point was redirected to Departure Bay

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

B.C. school trustee calls LGBTQ school program ‘weapon of propaganda’

Chilliwack’s Barry Neufeld published the comments on his Facebook page

B.C. couple hope boat drone becomes first to cross Atlantic

Colin and Julie Angus of Victoria to have drone collect environmental data en route

B.C. casino accused of illegal activity follows rules: operator

B.C. had launched review after concerns about money laundering at River Rock casino in Richmond

Most Read