Hart appeal to go ahead next month, judge rules

Rosie Mullaley
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Convicted murderer dismisses another lawyer

Nelson Hart sits in the prisoner’s dock during his Supreme Court murder trial in Gander in this file photo. — Telegram file photo

The appeal of a man’s conviction in the murder of his twin daughters will go ahead next month with or without him, a judge in the province’s highest court has ruled.

Justice Gale Welsh made the decision Wednesday afternoon when Nelson Hart’s case was called in Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal in St. John’s.

“Despite the fact we don’t really know Mr. Hart’s wishes, since he changes his mind regularly, I will order that the matter proceed on June 6 and 7,” Welsh said.

It’s not known what Hart thought about the decision because he chose not to take part.

Hart was supposed to have appeared via videolink from the Atlantic Institution in Renous, N.B., but was a no-show, leaving lawyers to update Welsh on the status of the case.

Hart is serving a life sentence for two counts of first-degree murder for the 2002 drownings of his twin three-year-old daughters, Karen and Krista, at Gander Lake. He was convicted in 2007 and is ineligible for parole until at least 2032.

The first issue to resolve Wednesday was that of counsel.

Rosellen Sullivan told the judge Hart had asked that she be dismissed as his lawyer.

Sullivan was appointed as Hart’s counsel in May 2010 and has spent hours on the case and taken several trips to Renouf to visit Hart.

She filed the application two weeks ago to be taken off the case after Hart informed her April 12 he wanted new representation.

“He’s leaving us all wondering what his reasons are,” Welsh said.


When the judge asked Crown prosecutor Steve Dawson his position on Hart’s decision, Dawson replied, “Mr. Hart has the right to his own counsel. He wants to discharge (Sullivan), so the court has no choice but to discharge her.”

Welsh agreed to have Sullivan discharged.

It’s not the first time Hart has parted ways with his lawyer.

After finally agreeing to representation, he ended up firing Legal Aid lawyer Derek Hogan last year.

The court then consented to give Hart private counsel and Sullivan took over the case.

It was also agreed his lawyers’ fees would be paid by the Attorney General.

The court has tried to get Hart’s appeal off the ground since it was first filed in April 2007.

Since then, Hart has caused several disruptions and delays. Beside changing lawyers, he’s failed to show up a few times, made demands to the court and, at times, has been non-responsive during proceedings.

Before proceedings wrapped up Wednesday, Welsh told St. John’s lawyer Randy Piercey — who was appointed in January 2009 to act as an amicus curiae, or impartial adviser, to help have the appeal heard — to update Hart on what’s happening with the case.



This article has been edited to correct an error.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Court, Atlantic Institute

Geographic location: Renouf, Gander Lake

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Recent comments

  • Dear Zachary
    August 24, 2014 - 00:33

    How can the people of Newfoundland allow this women to continue handing out ruling's in the justice system! She deserve to be punished like the other befuddlingly incompetent Justices that presided over extradition case of the muderer Shirley Turner. The people of Canada that are allowing these people to continue to stay in their offices are a detriment to society.

  • brad
    December 15, 2012 - 23:30

    If this is the same Gale Welsh that let Shirley Turner out of jail and granted custody of Zachary, she should be put in jail. I find it very hard to beleive that this evil person is still a judge. Everyone should watch "Dear Zachary".

  • Nana Gander
    May 27, 2011 - 21:09

    Nice that Judge Welsh sees this for what its worth! Hart is playing mind games with our justice system as he did for a good part of his life, with anyone whom he could manipulate....Judge Welsh is having no part of it and nor should she! In my opinion, Hart is just prolonging his appeal.....he's afraid to face the inevitable! And Donny, we are not living in Sweden and the Netherlands...we are living in the wonderful country of CANADA....and if you had two beautiful girls and they were suddenly dead, wouldn't you want to know what happened...regardless of whether it was through a sting operation or whatever other means!. Enough taxpayers dollars have been spent of this monster already...In my opinion, he is where he belongs and furthermore, I think that Hart believes HE is where he belongs, thus the reason why he doesn't want the appeal to go ahead! Either that, or he figures his appeal will be denied and that will be the end of the line for him, for at least another twenty- plus years. Get on with it....and throw away the key!!!!!

  • Jean
    May 27, 2011 - 00:49

    Disgusting...he's demanding new lawyers and getting them..How can you fire someone you haven't hired?? Bet I would have to pay for private counsel...He's milking the system and doing a good job of it...Goes to show how devious he really is...He's had ample opportunity to get a justible appeal....The law states "a timely fashion"...what about the the "him"....times up!!

  • Herb Morrison
    May 26, 2011 - 19:36

    On Nelson Hart When we as a society are forced to acknowledge the reality that people like people such as Nelson Hart and Russell Williams live in our midst; and when we are forced to come to terms with the unspeakable crimes which these men have been convicted of committing, we are faced with a daunting task. One reason we struggle in dealing with the individuals convicted of heinous crimes is the fact that the crimes committed by the nelson Harts and Russell Williams of the world defy reason. Initially when we hear of this type of crime our knee-jerk reaction is often unreasonable. When Nelson Hart was arrested for allegedly leaving his two little girls to drown in a pond while cold-bloodedly driving away from the scene; I was tempted to wish that he be sentenced to meet a similar fate albeit drowning while weighted down by the millstone around his neck. However, such action on my part would be as lacking in reason as was Nelson Hart’s action was when he left his daughters to drown. Nelson Hart is not eligible for parole until 2032. That’s twenty years from now. Add to that the fact that in 2032 Nelson Hart may not be granted parole and it is reasonable to assume that he will never again be in a position to harm another human being. Furthermore, when you consider the reality that, within any penal institution, persons convicted of crimes against both women and children must live with the threat that they could be injured or even killed by other inmates, the life of Nelson Hart is effectively over. For the benefit of those people who believe that Nelson Hart should rot in Hell, the good news is, he is probably doing exactly that.

  • Kevin Power
    May 26, 2011 - 13:32

    Mr. Hart is just screwing, us the tax payers, for the cost of his legal fees. The man is convicted of murdering his own two daughters. That by itself shows you something about him. Bring back Capital Punishment.

  • Donny Dooley Dildo NL
    May 26, 2011 - 12:14

    Go on Leah, if Mr. Big offered me a better life than I ever could have imagined I would have confessed to anything! That's why Mr. Big isn't allowed in other countries. This dude has a right to an appeal under our system - that's how it works. If you don't like the laws of this land you can always move!

  • rj
    May 26, 2011 - 12:00

    I don't know what the "Atlantic Institute in Renouf, N.B." is. There is a federal penitentiary called the 'Atlantic Institution' in 'Renous,' N.B. is that what the author is referring to? Maybe it's a small point, but it wouldn't be too hard for the author to get the name of the prison or where it's located right.

  • Leah
    May 26, 2011 - 11:55

    Donny, you can't be serious. Why are you even putting your focus on this murderer, instead of what these tiny children went through? They'd be eleven by now, but are not here to enjoy their lives because he, their very own father, deliberately drowned them. Do you every have your priorities backwards.

  • Peggy
    May 26, 2011 - 11:46

    Is the Justice system crazy? These two precious innocent little darlings deserve justice, and taxpayers' money is being wasted on this useless heartless murderer. That's what he is to have driven away while his own three year old daughters were struggling for their little lives and drowning. Do the same thing to him. The lies, no remorse, no sorrow, no regrets. all about him and his ustice. God, I just cannot comprehend it.

  • Donny Dooley Dildo NL
    May 26, 2011 - 11:25

    Listen, police sting operations are not permitted in Sweden and the Netherlands. What does that tell ya? He deserves an appeal. If you were in his shoes you would want one, so get a grip!

  • Mary Benedict
    May 26, 2011 - 08:03

    He dosen't deserve any appeal or change of attorneys after drowning his beautiful little three year old girls with so many good people out there who would love to have them to raise properly, what about their snuffed out lives. I hope you get the maximum punishment available.

  • mike walsh
    May 26, 2011 - 07:52

    is he not in jail for killing his children. why are we wasting money to giev him an appeal. i say let him rot in jail.

  • Jarge
    May 26, 2011 - 07:51

    why are taxpayers dollars being wasted on this case?? There are kids who need rescuing from the sex trade and we are pouring taxpayers dollars into this nuisance!!! We need to start thinking logically.

  • BI
    May 26, 2011 - 07:41

    I think if he wants an appeal, he should pay for it. It won't make any difference anyway, because he let those two precious darlings drown and nothing can clear him from that - leave him in jail until he dies.