Nova Scotia

Court rejects bid to impose more restrictions on Andre Denny

In a decision released Wednesday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal refused a bid by Crown prosecutors to restore restrictions imposed on Andre Denny, who beat prominent gay rights activist Raymond Taavel to death.

Criminal Code Review Board granted Denny more freedoms a year ago, which Crown sought to overturn

Andre Denny pleaded guilty in 2015 to manslaughter in the 2012 death of Raymond Taavel. (CBC)

A man who beat a prominent gay rights activist to death in Halifax will not be subject to any further restrictions on his freedoms.

In a decision released Wednesday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal refused a bid by Crown prosecutors to restore restrictions imposed on Andre Denny, who killed Raymond Taavel in 2012.

Denny was already a patient at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth, N.S., when he managed to slip away from the facility. Hours after his escape, he beat Taavel to death outside a bar on Gottingen Street. He pleaded guilty in 2015 to manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Denny has already served his full sentence for killing Taavel. He's still being held at the hospital because he had earlier been found not criminally responsible for an assault causing bodily harm in his home community of Membertou in 2011.

His custody is subject to regular review by the Criminal Code Review Board. Prosecutors went to court to challenge the board's authority, saying it had failed to properly consider all factors before deciding to grant Denny more freedom.

Raymond Taavel, 49, died after a brutal beating outside Menz Bar on Halifax's Gottingen Street on April 17, 2012. (The Canadian Press/Shambhala Sun-Marvin Moore)

Following the board's last review, Denny was granted permission to live unsupervised in a cottage on the hospital grounds. From 2014 to the summer of 2017, Denny had little or no unsupervised access to the larger community. Since 2017, the board has gradually increased Denny's freedoms, including allowing him to leave the hospital on his own for a few hours at a time.

But the Crown argued that the decision the board reached last December was not properly explained or supported by evidence.

But Justice Carole Beaton, writing for the three-member appeal panel, disagreed. She said the board's decision on Denny was "terse," but sufficient.

"It cannot be said the Board failed to appreciate or consider relevant evidence or disregarded evidence, despite its rendering of economical reasons," she wrote.

"Its reasons may not be structured in a manner the Crown might have preferred, but the Board's decision does allow for meaningful review."

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Blair Rhodes

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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