Truth, Lies and Confessions
The interrogation-room confessions that led to the convictions of Russell Williams and Terri-Lynne McClintic for their horrific and high profile crimes earned high praise for the Ontario Provincial Police, and especially for interrogator Staff Sgt. Jim Smyth. But outside the glare of the media spotlight, concerns are being raised about the aggressive methods employed by Canadian police forces, and whether the interrogation techniques they use are eliciting confessions from the innocent, as well as the guilty. Two Canadians who confessed to crimes they did not commit speak out in this exclusive report by Joe Schlesinger of CBC News.
Update: On June 27, 2012, Brenda Waudby's child abuse conviction was overturned on appeal. An acquittal was entered, and the Crown apologized for what they acknowledged was a miscarriage of justice. Waudby accepted the apology.
Q & A
- A Defence Lawyer's Advice
- "I do not wish to give a statement or answer questions. Repeat." Want to know what to do when the police want to talk to you? Eminent defence lawyer Phil Campbell provides indispensable advice about your legal rights and best strategies during an interrogation, whether you're innocent or guilty.
- Defending Cory Armishaw
- As any lawyer knows, a confession, even a false one, is normally the kiss of death for an accused in court. But Craig Parry is no ordinary defence lawyer. Truth, Lies and Confessions producer Bonnie Brown tells the inspiring story of how he saved an innocent man from a life in prison.
Read more about Brenda Waudby's case
- Sgt. Dan LeMay's notes describing Brenda's arrest, interrogation and the tactics he used.
- Brenda's handwritten recantation of her confession.
- Watch the CBC News Toronto story on Brenda's exoneration on June 27, 2012
- Read Toronto journalist Harold Levy's Charles Smith blog
Learn more about false confessions
- "The Path to Justice: Preventing Wrongful Convictions", Ch. 6 - False Confessions, Report of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Heads of Prosecutions Subcommittee, Fall 2011
- "Justice Imperiled: False Confessions and the Reid Technique", Timothy E. Moore & Lindsay Fitzsimmons, Criminal Law Quarterly, 2011, Vol. 57 (4)
- Read "The Psychology of Confessions" by Saul M. Kassin
- More articles on false confessions by Saul M. Kassin
- Learn more about "Types of False Confessions" from Bruce Frumkin
- "The importance of a laboratory science for improving the diagnostic value of confession evidence", Christian A. Meissner, January 2010
Learn more about the PEACE Method from John House and Brent Snook
- "An alternative interviewing method", Blue Line Magazine, November 2008
- "Dispelling myths and moving forward with PEACE", Blue Line Magazine, November 2010
- "Reforming Investigative Interviewing in Canada", Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, April 2010
Joe Schlesinger was a foreign correspondent for the CBC for three decades reporting on historic events the world over.
He covered wars from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf, earthquakes in Italy and Iran, revolutions from Mao's Cultural Revolution in China to the ones that overthrew communism in central and eastern Europe with time out for haute cuisine and haute couture in Paris.
He was in Russia with Richard Nixon, in China with Pierre Trudeau, in the Middle East with Jimmy Carter, in Tehran when the Shah fell and the mullahs took over, in St. Peter's Square when John Paul II became pope and with him on his many travels, with Brian Mulroney in Africa and Jean Chretien in Latin America and Ronald Reagan on many of his travels, including his summit meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev.
Reporter: Joe Schlesinger
Producer: Bonnie Brown
Editor: Catherine McIsaac
Camera: Hans Vanderzande (Ontario)
Camera: Bruce Tilley (St. John's)
Associate Producer: Colman Jones
Online Producers: Sian Lloyd, Shaun Dhani
Have you or do you know someone who made a false confession during a police interrogation?