Charges stayed in child porn case after delay of 12 years, 8 months, 15 days

Two child porn charges were laid in 2005 against Simon Daggett, who was serving as a soldier in Edmonton. A warrant was issued for his arrest in 2006 but not executed until 2017.

Years of inaction by police, Crown against former Edmonton soldier described as 'comedy of errors'

Simon Daggett, 41, was charged in 2005 with two counts of distributing child pornography. This week those charges were stayed due to "unreasonable delay" bringing the case to trial. (Facebook/Simon Daggett )

Thirteen years ago, Simon Daggett was a soldier who lived and worked on the Edmonton base.

In May and June 2005, he allegedly shared child pornography video clips over the internet with an undercover Toronto police officer.

A search was conducted of the private's room at the barracks, following which Daggett was charged.

According to an August 2005 Edmonton Journal article, a military spokesman at the time expressed disappointment in the charges but noted, "the Daggett investigation moved at lightning speed."

That appears to be the only thing about this case that can be described as moving at "lightning speed."

This week, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Avril Inglis stayed both charges against Daggett, now 41, after describing years of inaction and complacency by police and the Crown as a "comedy of errors."

More than a decade to execute arrest warrant

Soon after he was criminally charged, Daggett left the military and moved to British Columbia.

In the beginning, an Edmonton-area lawyer was authorized to represent Daggett and to appear in court on his behalf.

But for some reason, Daggett thought the lawyer had stopped representing him, so when he moved to Vancouver, Daggett did not pass along his new contact information.

Nonetheless, the wheels of justice continued to grind along in Edmonton.

A trial was scheduled for June 2006. As Daggett continued to be a no-show in court, the defence lawyer in March 2006 asked to be removed from the case due to lack of communication.

The trial was cancelled and a warrant was issued for Daggett's arrest.

It took 11 years to execute the warrant.

The judge noted, "The prosecution did nothing between issuing the warrant and Daggett's arrest in 2017."

In her application for a stay of charges, Daggett's current defence lawyer, Danielle Boisvert, sharply criticized more than a decade of inaction by the Canadian Forces Provost Marshall (CFPM) to locate Daggett.

She wrote, "Not only did they take no steps to seek him out in British Columbia, they deliberately chose not to execute the warrant ... when the applicant was detained at an airport. This occurred not once, but at least three times."

According to his personal Facebook page, Daggett travelled extensively and internationally during the time there was a warrant for his arrest. There are photos of him in Japan and Rome.

Simon Daggett posted pictures of himself in Italy that were taken during the time there was an Alberta-issued warrant out for his arrest. (Facebook/Simon Daggett )

The application states, "He obtained and travelled internationally several times with a Canadian passport ... He provided his correct personal information. ... The fact of his willingness to travel internationally knowing there was an outstanding warrant in Alberta can only serve to indicate his willingness to surrender to authorities if they chose to execute the warrant."

The application also states that between 2006 and 2017, Daggett was employed, filed tax returns and on one occasion even submitted to a security clearance check that gave police agencies all the information they'd need to take him into custody.

Daggett was finally arrested in March 2017 by Vancouver police. For whatever reason, after 11 years of delay, the arrest warrant was finally executed. In June 2017, he was committed to stand trial.

That trial was supposed to be held this September but now has been cancelled due to the stay of charges.

'Clearly, the delay in this case is unreasonable'

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Avril Inglis stayed two charges against Simon Daggett, citing 11 years as "unreasonable delay", ruling his constitutional right to a speedy trial had been denied. (CBC )
In her decision, Inglis noted Daggett bears some responsibility for the delay since he failed to stay in touch with his defence lawyer. But, she said, he is not mainly or solely to blame.

She placed the primary burden on the prosecution and police agencies for what she described as unwitting and unintentional complacency.

"His rights have been breached," Inglis said. "Clearly, the delay in this case is unreasonable."

Daggett was not in court this week to hear the decision. The judge noted, "He described constant fear about the outstanding charges and warrant."

In an email, Boisvert, his defence lawyer, told CBC News, "He is happy to have this matter put behind him so he can move on."

Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley declined to comment on the case.

About the Author

Janice Johnston

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston