Newman’s now a free man

Rosie
Rosie Mullaley
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Once police evidence was tossed out, Crown had little hope of murder conviction

With seven words from a judge — “Mr. Newman, you are free to go” — a family’s anguish was unleashed.

“You’ve got to face God!” a woman screamed at Raymond Gerald Newman seconds after he was acquitted of murdering Chrissy Predham-Newman.

“You won’t get off that easy! … You’ll pay one way or another, you son-of-a-bitch. You’ll get yours.”

The woman sobbed uncontrollably and continued to yell at Newman, who was rushed out of the courtroom by a large contingent of family and his lawyers at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s Wednesday morning.

When they left the courtroom and went upstairs to leave the building, the woman was behind them. She was so upset, she had to be held back by sheriff’s officers and collapsed on the floor, crying.

An ambulance showed up minutes later. Reporters weren’t permitted to shoot pictures as paramedics lifted her out of the building and into the ambulance. She was then taken to hospital. There’s been no word on her condition.

Newman — who had been awaiting trial for murder in connection with the stabbing death of his estranged wife, Chrissy Predham-Newman — walked away a free man more than three years after he was arrested.

Predham-Newman’s body was found in her Airport Heights apartment in St. John’s Jan. 21, 2007.

The 28-year-old had been stabbed numerous times and her throat was reportedly slit.

The estranged couple had a young daughter.

Ray Newman was arrested and charged in June 2009 after a 2 1/2-year police investigation.

He was originally denied bail, but was released from jail after his lawyers, Mike King and Brian Wentzell, were successful in appealing that decision in early 2010.

Four months had been set aside for the jury trial.

However, for the past 2 1/2 years, lawyers have been dealing with pre-trial applications made by the defence to exclude evidence.

The defence was successful in having almost all the evidence gathered in the police investigation excluded — evidence the Crown had intended to present to a jury.

Crown prosecutor Elaine Reid told the court Wednesday, “As a result, we no longer have a reasonable likelihood of conviction.”

That prompted King to stand and ask the judge to enter an acquittal.

Justice James Adams agreed.

Outside court, Newman and his family hugged each other and the lawyers, King and Wentzell. Newman and his family de­clined comment.

But King told reporters, “This is obviously not necessarily a day of celebration. It’s certainly a day of relief for Mr. Newman and his family.

“But it is an emotional time and, indeed, for the past six years, it’s been very stressful, very sad, very exhausting for Mr. Newman, but we’re certainly re­lieved it has come to an end.

“We’ve believed in our case and in Mr. Newman and in his innocence from Day 1. We’ve also felt from Day 1 that the case was very weak and we were very confident in our defence.

“For the past three years, we have been challenging several aspects of the case and, fortunately, we were successful in each and every one of those challenges. And because of that, Mr. Newman is a free man today and we maintain his innocence.

“Justice was done here today.”

To those who might be outraged at the outcome, King said the public should look closer at the case.

“I would urge the public not to jump to any decisions without knowing the case. The reality is, up until today, the details of this case have been under a publication ban.

“This is a case that’s been highly publicized and (there have been) a lot of rumours in the community.

“It’s important in our justice system to realize that a person is innocent until he’s found guilty. People are charged all the time that are not guilty of an offence.”

King pointed to wrongful conviction cases in the 1990s that prompted a judicial inquiry into the province’s justice system.

“Sometimes we too easily forget those incidents,” he said. “I think today was a triumph of the justice system.”

Reid, the Crown prosecutor, told reporters that because there was no likelihood of conviction, it was their duty to end the matter.

“It was a very difficult decision, but in the end, we were faced with the simple fact that most of the evidence was excluded and, simply, we could not proceed any further,” she said.

Reid confirmed that the public prosecution office will appeal, saying the Crown believes errors in law were made by the judge in his pre-trial applications decisions.

“This is not a situation where we’ve withdrawn the charge,” co-prosecutor Phil LeFeuvre added.

“This is a situation where we’ve proceeded fully through the courts, the courts have excluded the evidence we intended to call. Now, essentially, the evidence is gone and we’re taking steps to appeal those rulings.”

When asked their opinion on how the police handled the case, they would not comment, since that will form the grounds of the appeal.

King, meanwhile, said he’s had no quibbles with the prosecution, but he has criticized the police for how their investigation was handled.

Much of the evidence was excluded because Newman’s rights were violated by the police.

 

Now that the case is behind him, Newman will try to put his life back together, King said.

“This is a big step in Mr. Newman trying to lead a normal life as best he can,” he said.

“The specifics of that, I’m not going to get into, but (he plans to) live as a normal person in society.

“He’s been a model client. I’m sure he will be a model citizen.”

 

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

 

Organizations: Airport Heights

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