BROADCAST DATE : Mar 29, 2000

Steven Truscott - His Word Against History

It was a hot, muggy evening in 1959 when 14-year-old Steven Truscott gave his schoolmate Lynn Harper a ride on his bicycle near an air force base outside Clinton, Ontario.
Two days later, the girl’s body was found in a wooded grove near the town. She had been raped and strangled.

After a trial that lasted only 15 days, Truscott was convicted of murder and sentenced to be hanged, becoming Canada’s youngest death-row inmate. His death sentence was commuted, but the schoolboy spent a decade in prison before being paroled in 1969.

The case of Steven Truscott was the most famous chid criminal case in Canadian judicial history, but Truscott himself disappeared into an anonymous existence, living under an assumed name and shunning all publicity for three decades.

Then, in a 2000 episode of the fifth estate, Steven Truscott broke his 40-year silence for the first time, coming forward to maintain his innocence. 

The fifth estate’s investigation highlighted serious problems with the forensic evidence and showed that police were too hasty in laying charges, ignoring vital testimony of certain key witnesses and not allowing for the possibility of other potential suspects.

Following the documentary and a book on the case, Truscott, his family and supporters launched a campaign, with help from lawyers from the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, to get the federal justice minister to re-open the case.

On Aug 28, 2007 – 48 years later his original trial – the Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously overturned Truscott’s conviction, declaring the case “a miscarriage of justice” that “must be quashed”.
The Ontario Government awarded him $6.5 million in compensation for his ordeal.

Truscott now lives in Guelph with his wife of more than four decades, Marlene, who was instrumental in the legal effort to bring about his acquittal.