Nova Scotia's Public Prosecution Service has released its report into the Fenwick MacIntosh case, spreading the blame between federal and provincial authorities.

The Nova Scotia man had numerous sexual assault convictions against thrown out because of the lengthy delay — more than a decade — in bringing him to justice.

The report says the cause of the prosecution service delay was the failure of an overworked Crown attorney's office in Port Hawkesbury to follow up as the case crawled along.

MacIntosh was first charged in 1995 with sexual assault relating to incidents in the Port Hawkesbury are during the 1970s.

He was living in India at the time of the investigation.

The final charges against him were laid in 2001. Canadian authorities did not extradite him until 2007.

During that period his Canadian passport was twice renewed. The RCMP had asked MacIntosh's passport be revoked.

'Heartbreaking' outcome

The Nova Scotia government calls the renewal of the passport "inexplicable" but also accepts blame for its own lapses.

The report said the RCMP did nothing wrong.

"It is apparent from our records that the chief crown attorney for Cape Breton (Kenneth Haley) did not play an active role in managing the progress of this file," the report states.

The report also makes it clear that the crown prosecutor in the Port Hawkesbury case, Richard MacKinnon, shares blame by failing to follow up.

MacKinnon is now a provincial court judge and Haley has been appointed to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

"The outcome of this case is heartbreaking and the people who came forward to testify about abuse did not get the justice they deserve," said Justice Minister Ross Landry.

Landry received the final reports last month from the Public Prosecution Service and the RCMP,  but said he needed time to review them before making them public.

Changes coming

"We know that the role we played in the delay is unacceptable, and we know that letting these courageous men down is unacceptable," said Martin Herschorn, Nova Scotia's director of public prosecutions, in a statement. He said they've learned some hard lessons from this situation.

The public prosecution office said at the time, the Port Hawkesbury office had a case load of 1,000 charges a year.

The prosecution service is adopting five measures to prevent a case like this from happening again. They include:

  • Establishing an electronic alert system that will generate a reminder in cases where eight months have elapsed since the first court appearance.
  • Potential delay cases will be addressed at executive meetings.
  • Crown attorneys will be trained on handling delays.
  • A prosecution service policy will be developed for extradition cases.
  • Crown attorneys will be trained on extradition.
with files from the Canadian Press