The case of a man who spent almost 27 years in prison after he was wrongfully convicted for a series of sexual assaults is in court again — and this time, his lawyers are seeking damages for him.

Lawyers for Ivan Henry, now 67, argued Thursday in the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa that his charter rights were violated more than 30 years ago when prosecutors failed to disclose information relevant to his case, and that proof of maliciousness is not required.

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This is the 1982 Vancouver police lineup photo that shows an officer holding Ivan Henry in a choke hold. (CBC)

Henry was found guilty of a series of sexual assaults in the early 1980s. He was picked out of a bogus police lineup that featured police officers and Henry being held in a choke hold.

Henry has always maintained his innocence, and little attention was given to more than two dozen similar sexual assaults that took place after he was imprisoned.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), an intervener in the case, says Henry is seeking damages from the provincial government for its failure to disclose relevant information that was known at the time.

"During his trial, the prosecution failed to disclose a number of key facts, including the discovery of DNA evidence, the existence of an alternative suspect, and the occurrence of similar sexual assaults after Mr. Henry’s arrest," the BCCLA said in a written statement.

Ivan Henry after his release in 2010

Ivan Henry, in 2010 after he was acquitted and released from prison, is now 67 and is seeking compensation for wrongful imprisonment. His lawyers were in Canada's top court Thursday, arguing his charter rights were violated. (CBC)

In 2002, the Vancouver Police Department reopened the investigation into those later assaults, identifying a suspect through DNA evidence.

The suspect subsequently pleaded guilty to three sexual assaults committed after Henry had been incarcerated. In 2010, Henry's convictions were overturned.

Soon after, Henry's bid for damages began, but it has been denied in B.C. courts.

"At this stage in the proceedings, the Crown has argued that his claim should not proceed as Mr. Henry is unable to show that the implicated Crown prosecutors acted maliciously," the BCCLA said. "The British Columbia Court of Appeal agreed, and Mr. Henry has been granted leave to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada."

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story suggested a suspect pleaded guilty to several of the sexual assaults of which Ivan Henry had originally been convicted. In fact, the suspect pleaded guilty to three similar sexual assaults committed while Henry was in jail.
    Nov 13, 2014 4:29 PM PT
With files from the CBC's Terry Donnelly