Nova Scotia

N.S. soldier to be retried in shooting death

A new court martial has been granted for a Nova Scotia soldier who won an appeal and had his guilty verdict set aside in the fatal shooting of his friend and comrade in Afghanistan.
Ex-soldier Matthew Wilcox, centre, was sentenced in 2009 to four years in prison for shooting a fellow Canadian soldier in Afghanistan. ((Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press))
A new court martial has been granted for a Nova Scotia soldier who won an appeal and had his guilty verdict set aside in the fatal shooting of his friend and comrade in Afghanistan.

Ex-Cpl. Matthew Wilcox was convicted in July of 2009 of criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty in the death of Cpl. Kevin Megeney in 2007.

Last week, the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada set aside Wilcox's guilty verdict.

The Director of Military Prosecutions reviewed the case and announced Friday that a new general court martial will be held on the following charges:

  • One count of manslaughter, contrary to Section 130 of the National Defence Act, pursuant to Section 236(a) of the Criminal Code.
  • One count of criminal negligence causing death, contrary to Section 130 of the National Defence Act, pursuant to Section 220(a) of the Criminal Code.
  • One count of negligent performance of a military duty, contrary to Section 124 of the National Defence Act.

The charges are identical to the ones Wilcox was originally tried on. When he was convicted on the charge of criminal negligence causing death, the manslaughter charge was stayed by the military panel.

"The court martial administrator will convene a General Court Martial, which is composed of a military judge and a panel of five members, at the first available date and at a location to be determined," said the news release.

Two reservists were friends

Wilcox, of Glace Bay, shot Megeney in the chest on March 6, 2007. Megeney, 25, was a fellow Nova Scotian from Stellarton. The two reservists were friends and shared a tent at Kandahar Airfield.

During his trial in Sydney last year, Wilcox — who was 24 years old at the time of the trial — claimed he heard a gun being cocked when he was in his tent. He said he fired in self-defence.

The prosecution argued that Wilcox and Megeney were playing a consensual game of quick draw.

Wilcox was sentenced on Sept. 30, 2009, with the judge saying he was satisfied that the shot that killed Megeney was the result of two soldiers engaged in "horseplay with guns." He was sentenced to four years in prison and dismissed from the military.

The defence immediately announced a plan to appeal and Wilcox was released from custody in December 2009, pending the appeal.

Wilcox's lawyers argued the appeal was necessary because the military judge did not replace an alternate member of the military panel who had to be excused because of work commitments.

The Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada granted the appeal on the grounds that the error had "a potentially substantial effect on the fairness of the trial."

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