Decision in R v Spencer Released

The Supreme Court released it’s decision in R v Spencer, 2007 SCC 11, today.

From the Supreme Court’s summary:

The Respondent was tried on an indictment containing 98 counts with reference to 18 robberies. Convictions were recorded on 92 counts. The Respondent did not challenge the convictions on the counts relating to the robbery of a jewellery store at the Tillicum Mall in Saanich. The last robbery in the series was of Murdoch Jewellers in Surrey. The Respondent confessed to the Murdoch robbery before anything like an inducement came into play, so the appeal from the conviction on the counts related to that incident was dismissed.

The Murdoch robbery occurred on 29 August 2001. Four masked men entered the store and stole $127,400.00 in jewellery at gunpoint. A passer-by followed them as they made their escape. One of the robbers fired three shots at him from a handgun, a 9mm Glock, later found in the Respondent’s trailer, where he lived with Tanya Harrison (“Tanya”) and her young son. The Respondent was arrested on 1 September 2001 while driving a black Sunbird convertible registered to Tanya. The car was implicated in a number of other robberies. The police searched the trailer and found jewellery stolen from Murdoch’s, as well as the gun. Tanya was also arrested.

The Respondent declined a lawyer and made it clear that he would not provide the additional information unless Tanya was kept out of trouble. Cst. Parker asked the Respondent if Tanya’s involvement was only as the driver. The Respondent insisted on a promise that Tanya not be charged and then made repeated demands that he be allowed to speak to her. Cst. Parker disclaimed offering anything that a court might find to be an inducement. He stated that he could not make any deals; that was Crown counsel’s decision to make. After the Respondent made a number of admissions, Cst. Parker allowed him to see Tanya. The Respondent returned to the interview and confessed to the balance of the offences.

In his ruling on the voir dire, the trial judge found that the officer did not offer the Respondent an inducement regarding charges against Tanya. In his view, the officer simply outlined the natural consequence of the Respondent’s taking responsibility as the primary actor in the robberies. The trial judge acknowledged and Crown counsel conceded that the offer to let the Respondent see Tanya after he “cleared his plate” was an inducement, but he did not think it affected the voluntariness of the statement. The Respondent was convicted on 92 counts. On appeal, the majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal in part and ordered a new trial for counts of all robberies except the Murdoch Jewellers and Saanich/Tillicum Mall robberies. Hall J.A dissenting would have dismissed the appeal.

In a judgment written by Justice Deschamps (for Justices Bastarache, LeBel, Charron and Rothstein), the appeal was allowed and the convictions restored. Justices Fish and Abella dissented.

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