‘Systemic problems:’ Trial ordered in Alberta case highlighting bail delays

Ryan Reilly is accused of domestic violence that includes choking his partner until she lost consciousness

A man is to face trial following a ruling by the Alberta Court of Appeal that highlights “systemic problems” caused by new requirements for bail hearings brought in after the shooting death of a Mountie.

The court says a delayed bail hearing wasn’t enough reason for a lower court to stay charges against Ryan Reilly, who is accused of domestic violence that includes choking his partner until she lost consciousness.

“The primary responsibility for finding a remedy for systemic Charter breaches does not lie on the judiciary,” says the written decision. “It is the responsibility of the government.”

The court ordered that Reilly stand trial on the charges.

Reilly was arrested in April 2017 and charged with assault, unlawful confinement, mischief and failure to comply with a probation order. However, he was not brought before a justice of the peace to ask for bail until nearly 36 hours had passed — well past the 24-hour limit.

The judge at Reilly’s original trial noted that such so-called “overholds” were becoming increasingly frequent since the provincial government decided that police officers would no longer represent the Crown at bail hearings.

That decision came after the 2015 death of RCMP Const. David Wynn, who was investigating a stolen truck when he was gunned down in a casino in St. Albert, a bedroom community northwest of Edmonton.

The man who shot him, Shaun Rehn, was free on bail at the time after a hearing in which a police officer appeared instead of a Crown prosecutor, and consented to Rehn’s release.

Following a review, Alberta implemented a system in 2016 in which prosecutors would handle all bail hearings. That system quickly created a backlog.

Figures presented in court show that in the first year of the new system, the number of Edmonton overholds increased by a factor of nearly five — an issue prominent in the trial judge’s decision to grant a stay, the Appeal Court wrote.

“The trial judge’s decision to grant a stay was not primarily to address the breach of the respondent’s rights, but rather to address systemic failures.”

That was overreach, the higher court found. Other remedies were available and the trial judge went too far in granting a stay.

However, the Appeal judges noted the bail delay problem is real and hasn’t gone away.

Out of nearly 48,000 Edmonton cases in 2018-19, the Appeal Court heard that more than 15 per cent of those arrested waited too long for bail hearings.

“There would appear to be a downward trend in the number of 24-hour violations since the peak in November 2018,” the judgment says. ”Nevertheless, there are still a significant and persistent number of breaches.”

Elsewhere, it notes: “Additional resources would likely have reduced the problem, at least during the initial transitional phase.”

The court says the justice system must deliver timely bail for every accused and that lack of funding or implementation of a new system is no excuse for failure. The ruling warns the government that the issue isn’t going away.

“Unless the government takes steps to remedy the problem in very short order, it is inevitable that this issue will be back before the courts.”

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said the government is reviewing the decision.

He said it would be inappropriate to comment on the specifics of the case, but noted the government is committed to providing the tools and resources necessary to ensure the criminal justice system operates in a timely and effective fashion.

“We have committed to spending $10 million to hire 50 new prosecutors and support staff to increase the proper functioning of our criminal justice system,” Schweitzer said in an email.

“We are also working with law enforcement, the judiciary, duty counsel, Crown prosecutors and the hearing offices to make further improvements to help decrease the time it takes from arrest to the bail hearing.”

The provincial government did not respond to a request for comment.

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Making hay when facing variable conditions around Wetaskiwin

Lots of rain can have an effect on quality of hay bales even near Wetaskiwin

High speed thrills for media at racetrack

NASCAR Pinty’s Series Luxxur 300 media day at EIR July 16

Mexican recipes for Dora’s Kitchen this week

Tasty enchilada recipe has two types of chilies

Field scouting in July

Field scouting can lead to more successful crop production

Alder Flats 4-H Multi Club Report

4-H kids visited aerial park in Edmonton

VIDEO: Calgary, Flames agree to terms on new NHL arena

The proposed 19,000-seat facility would replace the Saddledome at an estimated cost of $550 million

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Alberta ahead of average tornado count at 17 so far this year

The province’s average over the past 30 years has been 12 tornadoes per year

The Beaverton’s sharp satire thrives in polarized political climate

Canadian TV series’ third season to air Tuesday on CTV after “The Amazing Race Canada”

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read