Joel Clow gets court-appointed lawyer to help with manslaughter sentence appeal

Joel Clow, 52, is appealing his 12-year prison sentence on the basis that he didn't understand what he was pleading guilty to in the death of Traci Lynch. The Appeal Court of P.E.I. has appointed a lawyer to assist him with his appeal.

Clow is serving a 12-year sentence for manslaughter in death of Traci Lynch

This photograph of Joel Clow was taken by RCMP investigators shortly after his arrest in July 2015. The photo was presented among evidence at trial. (RCMP)

A P.E.I. court has appointed a lawyer to help Joel Lawrence Clow appeal his sentence for manslaughter in his girlfriend's death.

Clow killed Traci Lynch in 2015 and was convicted of second-degree murder in 2017, but the conviction was overturned on appeal in 2019 and a new trial was ordered.

However, before a second trial could begin, Clow pleaded guilty to manslaughter and agreed to a joint recommendation by his lawyer and the Crown for a 12-year sentence.

In August 2019, Clow filed an appeal, arguing that he was misled into thinking the time he'd already spent in custody — 3.9 years — would be taken off the 12-year sentence.

Lynch died in Pleasant Grove in 2015 from blunt force injury and strangulation. 

Clow admitted that his actions caused Lynch's death, but said he was too impaired by drugs and alcohol to understand what he was doing.

During Clow's trial, her family described Traci Lynch as 'a quiet, private person.' (Facebook)

At a hearing on May 10 of this year, the P.E.I. Court of Appeal was told that Clow, now 52, does not have any assets and cannot afford a lawyer.

These issues are beyond the capability of Clow to understand- Justice John Mitchell

In a written decision Wednesday, Justice John Mitchell said the question for the court is not whether Clow's appeal will succeed, but whether it's arguable — and in his opinion, it is.

Mitchell noted that Clow dropped out of school in Grade 7 and had informed the court he was assessed in jail at a Grade 3 or 4 level. 

"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that these issues are beyond the capability of Clow to understand and properly advance," Mitchell said of the legal principles involved in such a sentence appeal.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Clow needs legal assistance to pursue his appeal."

Mitchell appointed Chris Montigny as counsel for Clow, who has so far represented himself in his appeal.

No date for the appeal has been set. 

The Crown and the Attorney General have both said that Clow's appeal has no merit, and that Clow understood what he was agreeing to.

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Sally Pitt


Sally Pitt is a producer with CBC and has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years in online, TV, radio and print. She specializes in justice issues and also works with the CBC Atlantic Investigative Unit. You can reach her at