Twelve year-old Lynne Harper was found dead June 11, 1959.
On September 30, 1959, it took a jury less than six hours to decide that a
14 year-old boy had raped and then murdered a 12 year-old schoolmate.
A murder, almost 50 years ago
The girl was Lynne Harper. The boy was Steven Truscott. That verdict, and a
judge's sentence of death by hanging, would propel Truscott into the history
books; as the youngest person ever sentenced to hang in this country and,
as many Canadians came to believe, the victim of a gross miscarriage of
justice. The story of Lynn Harper's murder and Steven Truscott's trial would
continue to haunt Canada long after his sentence was commuted and long after
he left prison to lead a life of anonymity under an assumed name.
It was a hot, muggy evening on June 9, 1959 when Truscott gave his classmate,
Lynne Harper, a lift on his bicycle near an air force base outside Clinton,
Ontario. Two days later, searchers found the girl's body in a wooded grove
near the base.
The murder and the quick arrest, trial and sentencing of Truscott made the case
Isabel LeBourdais's book was published in 1966.
A controversial case
He had his defenders, foremost among them Isabel
LeBourdais who, in 1966, wrote The Trial of Steven
, a book
that attacked the police investigation and the 15-day trial. The book created
a furious public debate and a Supreme Court review was ordered. But,
the verdict was upheld and Truscott continued to serve his sentence behind
A fresh start and new hope for a cleared name
In October, 1969, with a spotless ten-year prison record, he was
released on parole.
He took a new name and began life again in Guelph, Ontario where he worked as
a millwright, married and raised three children. And there he lived,
anonymously, until March, 2000 when the fifth estate
broadcast a documentary
about his case with new evidence showing that police case was incomplete,
at best and that evidence and testimony that should have been heard at
the trial, was not.
Since that documentary was broadcast, the public clamour to have Steven
Truscott's name cleared, has grown. His case was taken up by the Association
in Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted. In 2004, then Justice Minister
Irwin Cotler, referred it to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
And that's where the final chapter of the legal story of Steven Truscott will
begin on January 31, 2007 and, sometime after that, the moment of truth