POLITICS

Ex-Quebec judge who was found guilty of murdering his wife not getting bail

07/06/2012 05:34 EDT | Updated 09/05/2012 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - A former Quebec judge who was found guilty of fatally shooting his elderly handicapped wife was denied bail Friday as his lawyers try to overturn his conviction.

A Quebec Court of Appeal justice ruled that Jacques Delisle — believed to be the first Canadian judge to be convicted of first-degree murder — must stay behind bars pending an appeal of last month's guilty verdict.

Justice Richard Wagner rejected arguments that the jury was too quick to reach a verdict in Delisle's case, saying it was not a sufficient reason to grant bail.

"The decision to release an appellant, who has been found guilty by his peers, is not the fruit of a capricious or arbitrary exercise," Wagner wrote, pointing out the gravity of the crime, the circumstances and the impact must be considered.

Wagner rejected arguments that it would be in the public's interest to free Delisle until the appeal is resolved.

"The public, which has been well informed about the judicial system and the circumstances of this present case, risks losing confidence in the criminal justice system if I grant the request of the appellant," Wagner wrote in the 13-page decision

The judge will next have to consider if permission to appeal Delisle's conviction should be granted.

A jury found Delisle guilty last month of shooting Marie-Nicole Rainville to death in 2009 and he was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

Lawyer Jacques Larochelle, who is representing Delisle, told Wagner earlier this week that his client is not a flight risk, is not a danger to reoffend, that he had a blemish-free past and that he took care of Rainville for years.

The Crown argued during Delisle's month-long trial that he killed his 71-year-old spouse because he wanted to avoid a costly divorce and wanted to move in with his former secretary, with whom he had been having an affair.

Rainville had been paralysed on one side by a stroke in 2007 and was recovering from a fractured hip suffered a few months before she died.

On Nov. 12, 2009, Delisle said he found his wife already dead when he walked into the condo they shared in Quebec City.

She lay on a sofa, a .22-calibre pistol at her side and a bullet wound in her head. He called 911, telling the operator that his wife had committed suicide.

Police originally appeared to accept Delisle's explanation for his wife's demise and the death was officially listed as a suicide. But further investigation led to first-degree murder charges against the retired Quebec Court of Appeal justice.

Another key area of contention at the trial was a black smudge on Rainville's left hand from gunshot residue in a bizarre spot — outside the palm. The defence argued she had caused the smudge herself when she awkwardly handled the gun while the Crown insisted Rainville got the mark when she tried to fend off the fatal blast.

Delisle buried his face in his hands upon hearing the trial verdict last month. He slammed his fist into a table and said, "For God's sake, no." There were also pained screams from his family.

It had taken an eight-man, four-woman jury just under three days to reach its decision.

Crown prosecutor Steve Magnan said at that time that the outcome proved that "nobody is above the law, regardless of title, regardless of profession, regardless of someone's place in society.''