The Truscott Hearings

“Steven Truscott became Canada’s youngest death-row inmate in 1959 when he was sentenced to be hanged at age 14 for the murder of Lynn Harper. His case is one of the most famous and controversial in Canadian judicial history. Truscott’s long fight to clear his name resumed in an Ontario courtroom Jan. 31 2007, and cameras have been allowed to show the proceedings.”

The current hearing before the Ontario Court of Appeal are an historic event. Firstly, due to their being televised live (and “on demand”) and online. Secondly, because the Truscott case is one of the most controversial cases in Canadian legal history.

In 1959, Steven Truscott, then aged 14, was accused and convicted for the rape and murder of 12-year old Lynn Harper. He was sentenced to hang but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. In 1969, Steven Truscott was released on parole. In 1966, an appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the jury.

It became clear over the eyars that a significant amount of evidence was not revealed to the Defense Council and that this evidence was also not seen or allowed to be entered in evidence to the Supreme Court during the appeal. Also, in the intervening years, new information, as well as credible information about other suspects had come to the attention of the OPP in the day was ignored, suppressed and not followed up.

In the day, the court case against Steven Truscott was conducted in 15 days, an incredibly short time considering the very confusing, detailed and contradictory evidence before the court.

The current case appeals the case on the basis of lack of disclosure of evidence to Defense Council, as well as the very credible information which might have provided substantial doubt as to the guilt of Steven Truscott, had it been followed up or, indeed been provided to the Defense Council.

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