Nova Scotia

Crown appeals lack of jail time for special constables convicted in Halifax cell death

The Crown is appealing the sentences handed two Halifax special constables who were convicted of criminal negligence causing death in the case of Corey Rogers. 

Dan Fraser and Cheryl Gardner sentenced last month in Corey Rogers case

Dan Fraser and Cheryl Gardner were found guilty of criminal negligence causing death following a jury trial in November 2019. (CBC/CBC)

The Crown is appealing the sentences handed two Halifax special constables who were convicted of criminal negligence causing death in the case of Corey Rogers. 

A highly-intoxicated Rogers was brought into the cells at Halifax Regional Police headquarters on June 15, 2015. Arresting officers had placed a spit hood, a fabric mask that covers the lower half of a person's face, on him. The hood was left on when Rogers was dragged into a cell and left lying face-down on the floor.

Special constables Dan Fraser and Cheryl Gardner were working that night and were supposed to check on Rogers every 15 minutes.

But evidence at their jury trial in November 2019 showed the pair did not check on him and he died of asphyxiation when he vomited into the hood. It was hours before he was discovered dead in the cell.

Corey Rogers died in June 2016, the day after his daughter was born. (Jeannette Rogers)

At their sentencing last month, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Kevin Coady said it was not necessary to send Fraser and Gardner to jail for their crimes.

He instead gave them suspended sentences, followed by three years probation and ordered them to perform 200 hours of community service.

The judge said the pair led "pro-social" lives and were unlikely to offend again.

In a notice of appeal filed this week, Crown prosecutor Christian Vanderhooft disagreed. He said Coady failed to properly consider the principle of denunciation and deterrence in his decision and overemphasized the personal circumstances of Fraser and Gardner. Both had presented evidence at sentencing about the toll the case had taken on them.

If the appeal is successful, Vanderhooft is asking the court to substitute a sentence of two years in prison for each constable.

Even before they were sentenced, Fraser and Gardner launched appeals of their convictions.

About the Author

Blair Rhodes

Reporter

Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at blair.rhodes@cbc.ca

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