Nova Scotia

Glen Assoun's wrongful conviction appeal gets publication ban

A justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has approved a publication ban and sealing order in the case of a man who claims he was wrongfully convicted of murder.

Nova Scotian in prison over 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend

Glen Eugene Assoun was convicted in 1999 of stabbing to death his ex-girlfriend, Brenda Way. Her body was found in a Dartmouth apartment.

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has approved a publication ban and sealing order in the case of a man who claims he was wrongfully convicted of murder.

Glen Eugene Assoun was convicted of second-degree murder in September 1999 for the killing of his former girlfriend, Brenda Way. Assoun was sentenced to life in prison and must serve 18.5 years before he can apply for parole.

Lawyers for the federal justice department said the preliminary assessment could be used at next month’s interim-release hearing, but only if it remains sealed and any references to its contents are banned from publication.

Both Assoun and the provincial Public Prosecution Service (PPS) supported the request for a sealing order. The PPS argued the assessment contained unproven information that could damage reputations. It also warned that vulnerable people could be hurt if the information is released.

To protect 'vulnerable' people

CBC opposed both the publication ban and the sealing order, arguing that they run contrary to the long-established open court principle. The CBC made its case in a one-day hearing earlier this month.

In a decision released Thursday, the Supreme Court sided with Assoun, the PPS and the federal justice department.

In his decision, Justice James Chipman wrote that the preliminary assessment should remain sealed. Among his reasons Chipman noted the assessment contains information “from persons who are both vulnerable and marginalized in society.”

As least one sex worker testified at Assoun’s original trial. She claimed she had been attacked by Assoun before he is supposed to have killed Way.

Wrongful conviction?

In April 2013, the Toronto-based group the Association in Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted asked the federal justice minister to review Assoun’s case. It was referred to the department’s Criminal Conviction Review Group (CCRG).

In August 2014, the CCRG released a preliminary assessment that suggested Assoun may have been a victim of a miscarriage of justice. On the basis of that assessment, Assoun is asking to be released from prison while the CCRG completes its review.

The court has scheduled an interim release hearing for next month. Assoun’s lawyer wants to use the CCRG’s preliminary assessment to argue for his client’s release.