Edward Downey's leg shackles 'a return to the dark ages,' says lawyer

The lawyer for a Calgary man accused of murdering a five-year-old girl and her mother says he wants a judge to order his client's leg shackles removed.

Downey is charged with murdering Sara Baillie and her daughter Taliyah Marsman, who was 5

Edward Downey, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, wants his leg shackles removed as he sits in court this week for his preliminary inquiry. (CBC)

The lawyer for a Calgary man accused of murdering a five-year-old girl and her mother says his client's leg shackles are a "return to the dark ages" and wants the judge to order them removed.

Edward Downey — who has a 25-year criminal history involving pimping, drug trafficking and weapons offences — is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and her daughter, Taliyah Marsman, 5.

Baillie's body was found in the basement suite she shared with Taliyah in the northwest community of Panorama Hills in July 2016. The little girl was missing from the home, which sparked an Amber Alert search that lasted nearly a week until her body was discovered by a rural road near Chestermere.

Downey is in the middle of a preliminary inquiry, at the end of which provincial court Judge Gerry Meagher will decide if there is enough evidence to send him to trial.

One of the sheriffs sitting in the prisoner's box shook her head as defence lawyer Gavin Wolch suggested Downey be allowed to have his leg shackles removed and began nodding when the judge suggested there may be safety and security concerns. 

"That's a return to the dark ages," said Wolch. "There are no identifiable security concerns."

'I wanted security here and that's my call'

The names of the witnesses and all of the evidence presented at the inquiry are protected by a publication ban.

After an emotional outburst on Monday morning involving a witness, Meagher requested an additional sheriff sit near Downey.

"I wanted security here and that's my call," said Meagher.

Wolch, however, said his client was not involved, is presumed innocent and should be afforded a "measure of dignity."

Sheriff to testify about security concern

Meagher has already agreed to allow Downey to wear regular clothing for the remainder of the hearing instead of a blue prison jumpsuit.

The leg shackle issue will be heard by Meagher on Wednesday when a senior sheriff will be called to testify about any security risk posed by Downey. 

The hearing runs all week and then will continue for one more day in May.