Calgary

Charges dropped mid-trial against Cochrane woman accused in $1M fraud and theft case

Charges were dropped mid-trial against a Cochrane woman accused of stealing from and defrauding an oilfield company of more than a million dollars.

Shelley Davidson, bookkeeper for Silverado Oilfield Ventures, had been charged with fraud and theft over $5K

Shelley Davidson smiles outside the Calgary Courts Centre after her charges were stayed mid-trial. She had been accused of a million-dollar fraud and theft against an Alberta oil company. (Meghan Grant)

Charges were dropped mid-trial against a Cochrane woman accused of a million-dollar fraud and theft against an Alberta oilfield company where she worked.

Shelley Davidson, 40, was a bookkeeper for Silverado Oilfield Ventures from 2006 to 2011, during which time was accused of doctoring the company's financial documents.

She was charged in 2013 with theft over $5,000 and fraud over $5,000 following an RCMP investigation.

A two-week trial began in Calgary earlier this week but was derailed after issues with disclosure were uncovered by the prosecution and defence lawyers.

Some documents were missing while others were mislabeled, and some of the financial disclosure believed to be from banks turned out to have been compiled by the complainants.

On Friday, prosecutor Brian Kiers directed a stay of proceedings based on "issues" with the case.

"We have to deal with trial fairness," said defence lawyer Cory Wilson. "An accused can't be put on the stand or put into a trial and learn their case halfway through the trial."

Defence lawyer Cory Wilson says his client is "excited" the charges have been dropped but "wanted to be able to take the stand to prove her innocence." (Meghan Grant/CBC)

After making admissions based on the financial disclosure, the accused's "confidence was shattered" said Court of Queen's Bench Jim Eamon in accepting the Crown's direction.

Wilson said his client feels the dropped charges are "bittersweet."

"While my client is excited the criminal charges are behind her, she is disappointed that she won't have the opportunity to prove her innocence," he said.

"Based on the evidence presented in the first four days of trial, there is little doubt in my mind that she would have been acquitted,"

Wilson said the investigation was "incredibly flawed" and suggested the couple that owned the oil company had a vendetta against his client.

Outside the courthouse, Davidson wore a wide smile as she stood with supporters.

Silverado Oilfield Ventures shut down soon after the police investigation.

The prosecution declined to comment.

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