Evidence erased by police would have freed wrongfully convicted man: defence lawyer

HALIFAX — A defence lawyer who fought to free Glen Assoun from a wrongful murder conviction says evidence erased by the Mounties would have helped him win his appeal.

A federal report made public Friday revealed that the RCMP chose not to disclose an investigator's theories of other suspects in the 1995 murder of Brenda Way and had erased or thrown away files.

This occurred before Assoun's unsuccessful appeal in 2006, and the Halifax man remained in prison for eight more years.

The 63-year-old was declared innocent of second-degree murder on March 1 after serving almost 17 years in federal penitentiaries.

Lawyer Jerome Kennedy says if he'd known serial killer Michael McGray was considered a suspect by an RCMP investigator, it would have backed a theory he was advancing before the Court of Appeal of alternative suspects.

Kennedy, a former attorney general of Newfoundland and Labrador, says he feels ``a sense of sadness'' his client went on to serve time for a murder he didn't commit, due to a justice system that ``failed him so miserably.''

The RCMP has confirmed that documentation should not have been destroyed in 2004, however it says in an email some of the information Kennedy requested ``is not generally disclosed'' to defence counsel.

During the appeal case, Kennedy had asked for evidence from a national database that helps police forces identify the patterns of serial offenders such as McGray.

The federal Justice Department report revealing the destroyed evidence was made public after an application by The Canadian Press, the CBC and the Halifax Examiner.

© 2019 The Canadian Press