Financial adviser Brian Malley, who killed disabled client with pipe bomb, won't get to appeal

An Alberta financial adviser convicted of killing his disabled client with a pipe bomb disguised as a Christmas present has had his appeal application dismissed by the provincial Appeal Court.

Alberta man found guilty of murder after 2011 explosion death of 23-year-old disabled mother

Single mother Victoria Shachtay was killed by a bomb inside a wrapped present delivered to her home in November 2011. Brian Malley's appeal of his first-degree murder conviction has been dismissed. (Facebook/Flickr)

Alberta's Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal application by a financial adviser convicted of killing his disabled client in the 2011 bombing death of a young woman.

Brian Malley was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2015 for killing his disabled client, Victoria Shachtay, with a pipe bomb disguised as a Christmas present in Innisfail, just south of Red Deer.

He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years. 

​Shachtay was paralyzed in a car crash in 2004 when she was 16 and pregnant. She received a $575,000 court settlement in 2007 and turned to Malley, a family friend, to help her invest the money. By April 2011, it was nearly all gone.

On Nov. 25, 2011, a green-and-gold gift bag was delivered to her door. Her caregiver brought the package inside and Shachtay opened it while sitting in her wheelchair at the kitchen table.

The 23-year-old was killed instantly.

Malley wanted jury to hear about other possible suspects

Malley's lawyer, Nathan Whitling, asked the Appeal Court to set aside the conviction and order a new trial for his client.

He told the three-member panel that the trial judged erred by not allowing the jury to hear evidence about other possible suspects in the case.

"It may have raised a reasonable doubt and that's all that was required of this evidence. That's the only reason the defence sought to submit it," said Whitling at the time.

The appeal request also cited concerns about jury fairness, arguing that the trial judge should have discharged one juror who was likely prejudiced against Malley. Malley's wife, Christina, had taken photos of the jury, and the juror in question had expressed concerns about her family's safety. 

During the trial, the judge reassured the juror in question that the images would not be published, and the juror agreed that she could carry on her duty. 

"As long as there is no safety issues, then I'm 100 per cent fine," said the juror at the time.

Reasons for dismissal

In a ruling released Wednesday, Justice Barbara Lea Veldhuis of Alberta's Court of Appeal wrote that the trial judge was justified in his decision not to admit the evidence in question because it lacked the necessary evidentiary foundation and was based on speculation.

Veldhuis also found no reason to disagree with the trial judge's decision to keep the jury intact, given that at trial, Malley's legal counsel fully supported that decision.

"The appellant never sought her discharge at trial, and confirmed that he had no concerns after she was questioned," wrote Veldhuis. "When the inquiry was completed, the appellant confirmed it was not seeking a mistrial because of the jury's concerns."