Pressure mounts for public inquiry into delayed abuse case
Overworked Crown blamed in overturned Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh convictions
One of the men who accused Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh of molesting him as a boy says a recent prosecution services report blaming the overworked Crown doesn't resolve anything for him.
Weldon MacIntosh Reynolds, who asked a court to remove a publication ban on his name, and opposition parties say the report on the delay is no substitute for a public inquiry or independent review.
Fenwick MacIntosh had numerous sexual assault convictions against thrown out because of the lengthy delay — more than a decade — in bringing him to justice.
The prosecution service report says the cause of the delay was the failure of an overworked Crown attorney's office in Port Hawkesbury to follow up as the case crawled along.
"I don't want their apology. They don't need to waste their fingers on their emails to send me one because I don't want an apology. All I want is justice," said Reynolds, reacting to the statement from the Attorney General who expressed his regret for the province's role in the overturned convictions.
"If I went out and did something I would be in jail. It's time the provincial and federal government step up here and did a public inquiry."
Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry called the case "heartbreaking."
MacIntosh was first charged in 1995 with sexual assault relating to incidents in the Port Hawkesbury area 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.
Reynolds blames the federal government for renewing MacIntosh's passport twice and not extraditing him.
Liberal MLA Michel Samson said the report doesn't explain why it took another three years to bring MacIntosh to trial once he was back in Nova Scotia.
He wants a public inquiry, while Progressive Conservative MLA Chris d'Entremont said an independent review would be appropriate because the case is complex and also involves federal departments.
Justice system failure
A federal Justice Department spokeswoman said the government will review Nova Scotia's report, while the section responsible for extradition will review its processes.
The public prosecution office said at the time that the Port Hawkesbury office had a case load of 1,000 charges a year.
Martin Herschoren, the head of the Public Prosecution Service, said the victims were let down by the justice system.
"There was an extensive case load. It's not an excuse, it's an explanation for part of the delay that occurred here," he said.
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.