Crown appealing Nelson Hart ruling

Prosecutors in Newfoundland will ask Canada's top court to review an appeal court ruling that ordered a new trial for Nelson Hart.
Krista and Karen Hart, 3, drowned at Gander Lake in 2002. Their father, Nelson Hart, was convicted of murdering them in 2007. A provincial appeals court has ordered Hart a new trial, but crown prosecutors are appealing that decision to the SCOC. (CBC)

Prosecutors in Newfoundland will ask the Supreme Court of Canada to review an Appeal Court ruling that ordered a new trial for Nelson Hart.

Hart was found guilty in 2007 of first-degree murder in the deaths of his twin three-year-old daughters, and sentenced to life in prison. The girls drowned Aug. 4, 2002, in Gander Lake.

Last month, a three-judge panel of Newfoundland and Labrador's Supreme Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that Hart should have been allowed to testify in private at his 2007 trial. The court also ruled that Hart's confession during an undercover RCMP sting should not have been entered as evidence.

Two of the three judges said Hart has "a weak, socially dependent personality," which allowed him to be "coerced" into giving the confession.

The judges also said Hart was essentially "detained" by the state, and denied his right to keep silent.

"Tendency towards epileptic seizures and his difficulty in thinking and speaking clearly under stress," was also cited.

Crown prosecutors argue the judge at Hart's trial was correct when he ruled that Hart was "socially isolated" but was "a willing partner" who could "leave the organization at any time."

The Crown also argues the Appeal Court decision in Newfoundland, "goes beyond the careful balance struck by...(the) individual's right to silence ... and the legitimate interest of the state in law enforcement."

It could be months before Canada's top court decides whether it will hear the case.

With files from The Canadian Press