Edmonton

Doubts about sex assault victim Angela Cardinal raised in sworn affidavit

An Edmonton defence lawyer believes he has uncovered new evidence that suggests Angela Cardinal lied to police and to a judge about a June 2014 attack that sent a convicted sexual predator back to jail.

Defence lawyer believes he has new information that could lead to mistrial in case of Lance Blanchard

Lance Blanchard, 59, faces possible designation as a dangerous offender, but his lawyer believes new information may result in a mistrial. (Edmonton Police Service )

An Edmonton defence lawyer believes he has uncovered new evidence that suggests Angela Cardinal lied to police and to a judge about a June 2014 attack that sent a convicted sexual predator back to jail.

Cardinal was incarcerated for five nights while she testified during a preliminary hearing for Lance Blanchard, who was later convicted of aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping and unlawful confinement. Cardinal died months later in an unrelated shooting.

When news about her treatment by the courts became public, the case made headlines across the country and touched off a pair of investigations launched by Alberta's justice minister. 

Many suggested the 28-year-old Indigenous woman, whose real name is protected by a publication ban, was treated like a criminal, rather than a victim.

Now defence lawyer Tom Engel has filed an affidavit he believes could lead to a mistrial in the Blanchard case.

Affidavit suggests Cardinal made up story about her attacker

In an affidavit filed in Court of Queen's Bench, Wayne Wilcox wrote that he knew Cardinal well as a sex trade worker who frequented the 118th Avenue area.  

"[She] was a crack addict and she came and did crack at my house all the time," Wilcox wrote. "During that time she used crack all the time, whenever she could get it. She constantly had stolen property and sold some of that to me."

Wilcox swore that Cardinal would look for customers she could rob, and said she came to him in the spring or summer of 2014 with a business proposition.

She told me that none of the things that she told the police actually happened.- Wayne Wilcox, in a sworn affidavit

"She told me she had one guy who was a creep," Wilcox wrote, "and she wanted me to come with her to 'jack' the guy, and I refused."

During his trial last fall, Blanchard testified that Cardinal broke into his apartment with the intent to rob him.

The judge rejected his testimony and convicted Blanchard.

But Wilcox said he ran into Cardinal after the June 2014 attack.
The woman identified by CBC News as Angela Cardinal, whose real name is protected by a publication ban, died in an unrelated shooting in late 2015. (Edmonton Police Service )

"She told me that the police were called and the police told her about his sexual offending history, and she made up a story that she was the victim," Wilcox wrote. "She told me that none of the things that she told the police actually happened."

Cardinal was killed in an accidental shooting after a home invasion in late 2015.

Engel has asked for all court and police records related to that incident.

In his affidavit, Wilcox wrote that he met one of the men involved in the home invasion while both were in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre. Wilcox said the man told him that Cardinal had helped plan the robbery that ultimately led to her death, and was standing watch outside while the home invasion took place.

She was shot through a closed door after the would-be robbers left the apartment.

'Maybe the result would have been different'

None of the allegations have been proven in court. But Engel said he believes this new information bolsters the defence theory that was ultimately rejected by Justice Eric Macklin.  

"Of course, I didn't have that information at the time of the trial," Engel said. "I'm saying if the judge had had that evidence before him, maybe the result would have been different."

Defence lawyer Tom Engel will advance a mistrial application in July. (Scott Neufeld/CBC News )

Engel thinks it would be unfair to uphold Blanchard's conviction. He wants a new trial for his client.

On June 26, Engel will formally ask the judge to order disclosure from the Crown and police. In July, the judge is expected to hear Engel's application for a mistrial.  

Crown prosecutor Patricia Innes told the judge she opposes the mistrial application.

Dangerous offender hearing set to begin in January

The Crown is seeking to have Blanchard declared a dangerous offender, which could result in an indefinite sentence. Three and a half months beginning in mid-January have been set aside for that hearing, which could be derailed if Engel's application for a mistrial is successful.

Blanchard, 59, has spent most of his adult life in prison. According to documents obtained from the Parole Board of Canada, his criminal career began at age eight when he and another child set fire to a factory. He has a number of serious convictions as an adult. He was found guilty in 1975 of raping a mentally handicapped girl.  

Lance Blanchard has spent most of his adult life behind bars. (Edmonton Police Service )

Three years later, he forced a 13-year old girl into a car at knifepoint, threatening to sexually assault her. That same year, he abducted an 11-year-old boy at knifepoint and tried to sexually assault him.  

Blanchard killed a fellow inmate in 1978.  

He was finally released from prison in 2013 after serving a 34-year sentence.  

The parole board noted: "Your violent and sexual behaviour has caused severe psychological and physical trauma to numerous persons over a long period of time."

Blanchard remains in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre.

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