The Newfoundland Supreme Court of Appeal today ordered a new trial in the case of Nelson Hart who had been convicted in 2007 of murder in the drowning deaths of his twin three-year-old daughters in Gander Lake on Aug. 4, 2002.
The appeals court unanimously stated that a new trial should be ordered because Hart, in light of his tendency toward epileptic seizures and his difficulty in thinking and speaking clearly under stress with a large number of people around, should have been permitted to testify with the public excluded from the courtroom, but with audio or video transmission to those outside.
Also, the decision states, a majority decision by Chief Justice Derek Green, with Justice Michael Harrington concurring, ordered a new trial because the evidence of confessions obtained from Hart as a result of police pretending to be criminals in a “Mr. Big” sting was obtained by improper coercion and inducements in breach of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and should not have been admitted at the trial.
Justice Leo Barry dissented finding no excessive coercion or abuse of process and would have admitted the Mr. Big evidence.
Hart was convicted on March 28, 2007 of two counts of first-degree murder by a jury in Newfoundland Supreme Court trial division.
More coverage in Tuesday’s print edition of The Telegram.