Alberta minister apologizes for delayed criminal trial
Apology follows judicial review of young woman's case from Airdrie
Alberta's justice minister has offered a public apology to a young woman in southern Alberta whose sexual assault case was dismissed last October because of delays in bringing it to trial.
Jonathan Denis also pledged to get cases to trial quicker in the future following a judicial review of the Airdrie case.
"I want to extend my personal apologies to the young woman at the centre of this issue," he said Friday at a press conference outlining the review's findings.
The woman, who cannot be identified, claims the sexual abuse started when she was nine and went on for eight years. She didn't tell anyone about it until she was 23 years old.
The woman says she was shocked when she found out the defence was able to successfully apply for a stay of charges because of the unreasonable delay in the trial, which lasted for more than three years.
While her case can't be reopened, Denis says the woman's bravery in coming forward is resulting in changes that he promises will reduce court delays.
He says it should have never happened.
"I propose to provide an update in approximately 90 days on where this report is going and when we can expect the other items to be concluded," Denis said. "This is very important work for the adminstration of justice for all Albertans and we must continue with it."
The review says the Airdrie investigation was hampered from the beginning when charges where laid before enough evidence had been gathered.
One recommendation from the review is to improve consultation between police and prosecutors.
Another proposal is to eliminate preliminary hearings for everything — except serious cases like murder, bring in more judges and free up court time by removing traffic ticket cases from court rooms.
Judicial Review: Injecting a Sense of Urgency