A historic three-month-long trial may start from scratch after a nine-member jury found police officers Pamphill Prevost and Simon Power not guilty on one count but remained hung on another count.
From 1-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the jurors deliberated extensively and came to a eight-to-one “not guilty” decision on the count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. In light of the near unanimous decision, the judge discharged the defendants on that count.
On the other count, conspiracy to steal, the jury was split six to three, and the judge ordered a retrial. Now it is up to the Crown to decide whether or not to try the officers again for that count.
After Justice Rajiv Prasad delivered his summary beginning at about 9 a.m., the jury took a lunch break and began deliberations at around 1 p.m.
At 2:20 p.m., jurors came before the court to ask the judge if the defendants could be convicted separately. Mr. Prasad explained that they must receive a verdict together.
After about four more hours of deliberations, Mr. Prasad called jurors forward and asked if they needed more time to deliberate. They accepted and retreated to chambers.
The Vote Count
At this time, attorney Patrick Thompson, who represented Mr. Prevost, spoke on behalf of the defence and asked that Mr. Prasad accept either a seven-to- two or an eight-to-one vote on both counts.
Mr. Prasad asked prosecutors for input, and upon hearing no argument he accepted the terms.
When jurors were called forward again at about 7 p.m., they were asked if the vote was unanimous on both counts. They answered, “no.”
On count one, conspiracy to steal, the vote was split five to four, and on count three, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, the vote was split eight to one.
“Do you feel that with time you will be able to make a decision?” Mr. Prasad asked the jury regarding the count of conspiracy to steal.
Jurors then were given one more hour to deliberate, after which they were called forth to deliver their verdict.
On count one, the vote was now split six to three and the jury claimed that there was “no prospect of a change.”
With a contested vote following a complicated trial, questions arose about what should happen next. Mr. Prasad’s decision to order a retrial on count one was challenged by Mr. Thompson, who asked that the jurors be dismissed and the rest of the court stay to determine what should be done.
“We have been very careful, and we aren’t going to stop now,” Mr. Prasad assured Mr. Thompson and the court without dis- missing the jurors.
All lawyers had a chance to speak on the matter, including Crown Counsel John Black, who said the trial should be “adjourned.”
“I can order a retrial and the Crown can decide,” Mr. Prasad stated. “When we reach a point where the jury cannot decide a guilty or not-guilty verdict, then the Crown is en- titled to a re-trial.”
The trial wrapped up around 9 p.m. While reflecting on the past three months with the lawyers, defendants and jurors, Mr. Prasad admitted that the proceeding “was by no means an easy trial.”
In January, Mr. Prevost, Mr. Power and officer Shawn Henry were charged with conspiracy to steal in connection with large sums of cash that allegedly went missing during police operations between 2012 and 2014, according to the prosecution.
Mr. Power was also charged with acquisition, possession or use of proceeds of criminal conduct and Messrs. Prevost and Power were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Mr. Henry walked out of court a free man on April 5 after the jury delivered a formal not-guilty verdict at the direction of Mr. Prasad.
The jury also was directed to deliver the same verdict to Mr. Power for the charge of acquisition, possession or use of proceeds of criminal conduct.