VANCOUVER - The Supreme Court of Canada is hearing an appeal from a B.C. man whose lawyers say he deserves financial compensation for spending 27 years in prison for several sexual assaults he did not commit.
Ivan Henry filed civil lawsuits in 2001 against the provincial and federal attorneys general, the City of Vancouver and three members of its police department.
In 2010, the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned Henry's convictions after citing problems with the police investigation, the trial judge's instructions to the jury and lack of disclosure of evidence.
Henry represented himself at trial in 1983, when he was convicted of three counts of rape, two counts of attempted rape and five counts of indecent assault in attacks on eight women in Vancouver.
The B.C. Appeal Court has heard that new evidence surfaced during a 2002 police investigation involving another offender who was implicated in 29 cases and lived in the same neighbourhood as Henry.
The Crown has argued in lower courts that the claim should not proceed because prosecutors did not act maliciously.
The BC Civil Liberties Association and the David Asper Centre, which are intervening in the case, say malice has no role to play in awarding damages.
The groups say they will argue that such an approach fails to recognize the distinct nature of claims for damages under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"Such claims target the state, as opposed to individual prosecutors, and also fulfil the public functions of highlighting the importance of protecting charter rights and deterring future charter breaches."
Henry was arrested in July 1982 in 100 Mile House, B.C., and spent the next 12 years of his indeterminate sentence in a Saskatchewan prison, away from his family. His wife died in 1990.
In 2009, one of Henry's two daughters said outside the Appeal Court of B.C. that her father's sex convictions and dangerous-offender designation had taken an emotional toll on the family.
Tanya Henry said the family was kicked out of neighbourhoods and moved several times to try and hide their identity.
"We have children who don't know their grandfather," she said.
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