ALBERTA

Travis Vader's Defence Lawyer Argues That Murder Charges Should Be Stayed

12/01/2015 01:14 EST | Updated 12/01/2015 01:59 EST
RCMP/HO

EDMONTON — The defence lawyer for a man accused of killing two Alberta seniors whose bodies have never been found argued Monday that the charges against Travis Vader should be stayed.

Brian Beresh told a pre-trial hearing there has been an abuse of process by the Crown, which he says deliberately dragged out taking the case to trial.

Vader, 43, was first charged in 2012 with two counts of first-degree murder in the 2010 deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann, but the charges were stayed in March 2014.

Nine months later, the charges were re-laid and a trial before a judge alone is scheduled for March 2016.

On Monday, chief Crown prosecutor Michelle Doyle said she decided to stay the charges in 2014 because the potential evidence was nowhere near ready for trial, which she said wouldn't have been fair to Vader.

When she started preparing the case against Vader, she learned that RCMP hadn't handed over all the information and that missing notes, photos, surveillance and wiretape material "still had to be reviewed.''

She called the disclosure by RCMP "a fiasco'' and admitted being angry about the missing information, adding that she was told more than 20 RCMP officers had been called in to deal with it.

A month before the trial, disclosure was still not complete and Doyle elected to stay the charges because she had "effectively lost confidence in the RCMP getting full disclosure to her in a timely manner.''

Beresh argues the delay was intentional in order to provide the prosecution with two additional years to prepare and investigate.

He told court he had sent several letters to Doyle's office but she never replied.

For its part, the Crown admits Vader's Charter rights have been "clearly breached by the delay'' but says the case should continue despite "the egregious disclosure mess'' because of the serious nature of the charges, and the interest of society in seeing the case go to trial.

The McCanns, both in their 70s, were last seen fuelling up their motorhome in their hometown of St. Albert, a bedroom community north of Edmonton, in July 2010. They were on their way to a family camping trip in British Columbia.

Their burned out motorhome was discovered west of Edmonton a few days after they were last seen.

(CTV Edmonton, Global Edmonton)

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