Tanner Jay Morrow v. Her Majesty the Queen
(Alberta) (Criminal) (As of Right)
(Publication ban in case)
Criminal law - Appeals, Evidence, Unreasonable verdict - Criminal law - Appeals - Evidence - Unreasonable verdict - Whether the conviction for attempting to obstruct justice is unreasonable or incompatible with the evidence.
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At trial, the appellant was convicted of sexual assault, attempting to obstruct justice, and breach of bail conditions which prohibited him from contacting the complainant or attending at her residence, following a charge of criminal harassment. Shortly after the appellant had been charged and released in the criminal harassment file, the complainant contacted his father and asked if there was a way for her to withdraw the charges. In response, the appellant made inquries and went to the complainant’s home to tell her how to contact the Crown in order to have the charges against him dropped. While he was there, the appellant grabbed the complainant and forcibly kissed her.
The appellant appealed his conviction on a number of grounds, including an allegation that the trial judge’s reasons on the charge of attempting to obstruct justice were inadequate. A majority of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. It held that the trial judge’s inference that the appellant had applied pressure on the complainant for an improper purpose, thereby committing the offence of attempting to obstruct justice, was available on the record. In the majority’s view, the context clearly supported that inference, which is entitled to deference. In dissent, Slatter J.A. would have allowed the appeal in part, and would have set aside the conviction on the charge of attempting to obstruct justice. In his opinion, the conviction was unreasonable and incompatible with the evidence.
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