Nelson Hart, a Newfoundland man accused of murdering his twin 3 year old daughters, has been granted a new trial after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the police improperly obtained his confession through a controversial police technique known as a “Mr. Big” sting operation. In this type of investigation, undercover police officers will befriend the suspect and recruit him into a ficticious crime group and then encourage him to commit illegal acts to gain the group’s trust. Ultimately, the undercover operators will tell the suspect that they’ve heard he may be in trouble for committing a serious offence in the past. In order to stay loyal to the group, and in order to have the “crime boss” make his troubles go away, the suspect is duped into providing a full confession, which is then used agaist him in court. Canadian defence lawyers for years have been arguing that this technique, because of the trickery, intimidation and hope of advantage presented to the suspect, can lead to unreliable, false confessions.
In its ruling, it appears that the Supreme Court of Canada largely agrees:
Hopefully, as a result of this decision, trial courts across Canada will correctly apply the two pronged test and will only allow “Mr. Big” confessions into evidence when the Crown has demonstrated that it would be fair and safe to do so.
You can read the entire judgment here: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/14301/index.do