POLITICS

Judge rules no mistrial in Saskatoon murder case featuring Mr. Big RCMP sting

09/22/2014 06:00 EDT | Updated 11/22/2014 05:59 EST
SASKATOON - A judge has ruled he will not declare a mistrial in a high-profile Saskatoon murder case.

Justice Gerald Allbright was ready to deliver a verdict in the first-degree murder trial of Douglas Hales, who is accused of strangling and beating Daleen Bosse, a woman he had met at a bar where he worked as a bouncer, in 2004.

The case against Hales included evidence from a so-call Mr. Big sting, in which undercover RCMP officers posed as members of a criminal organization trying to recruit Hales.

But before Allbright could rule, the Supreme Court raised the bar for confessions extracted through such stings to be admissible in court.

On Monday, Allbright said there's no reason why both sides can't go back to evidence presented in the trial and apply a new test set out by the high court.

Under the new test, prosecutors must prove a Mr. Big confession is admissible by showing it's reliable and that it won't unfairly prejudice a crime suspect during court proceedings.

The Crown must also prove the confession was not obtained through police coercion, or was facilitated due to a suspect's mental health or addiction issues.

Crown prosecutor Matthew Miazga said there is all kinds of evidence in the Hales case that meets the reliability test, including the fact that Hales confessed to Saskatoon police after the sting was over.

"Perhaps the most important part is that Mr. Hales took the undercover police officers to the site of the Daleen's remains, which was previously unknown to the police — that was probably the most powerful piece of confirmatory evidence," he said outside court.

The defence had argued for a mistrial, saying that was the only fair way to apply the test.

"If Mr. Hales was being tried today, the presumption would be that those statements would be inadmissible, not that they would be admissible, and that changes everything," said lawyer Bob Hrycan.

"In our view, since the trial proceeded on a legal premise that we now know is no longer the law, that warranted a mistrial."

Hrycan said Hales is aware of the ruling.

"It's been very important for him in the sense he understands this affects his vital interests. So it's a very important development and it's one that he's paying close attention to."

Both sides will return to court on Oct. 22 to decide whether the court will permit the defence to reopen the case to present additional evidence.

Bosse's burned remains were found four years after she vanished in 2004.

During final arguments, the Crown contended that Hales killed the university student out of rage when she mocked his sexual impotence.

The defence argued that Bosse died of alcohol poisoning and that Hales burned her body out of panic, believing he'd be charged with murder since he provided the alcohol.

(CKOM)