Another child pornography case has been thrown out of court because of police errors.
St. John’s defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan — Telegram file photo by Rosie Mullaley
When the case of Kyle Clarke was called today in provincial court in St. John's, the Crown indicated it would not be proceeding with the case.
"Rather than continue with the application, the Crown is calling no evidence in the trial," prosecutor Dana Sullivan said to Judge Jim Walsh.
As a result, defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan asked that the charges be dismissed.
The judge agreed. "Mr. Clarke, you're free to go," Walsh said.
With that, Clarke quickly stood up, smiled and hugged and kissed his parents, who were in the courtroom.
Clarke, from Gull Island, had been charged with three counts — accessing child pornography, possessing child pornography and making child pornography available to others.
Sullivan had filed a Charter of Rights application for a stay of proceedings, to have the case halted, due to delay. She noted that it took 19 months to get the forensic analysis from police.
However, as she was reviewing information for the Charter hearing, she was shocked to discover she still hadn't received all the police evidence.
"If police are going to charge you with the most serious crimes, they've got to make sure they have evidence," Sullivan said after the proceedings.
Clarke was arrested in June 2013 as part of a major investigation, dubbed Operation Snapshot II, an RCMP-led project targeting child-related internet crimes.
The investigation covered the entire region of Atlantic Canada. Twenty-two arrests were made altogether, resulting in a total of 64 charges that have either been laid or are pending.
Nine men were arrested from this province.
At the time, RCMP Insp. Jeff Thompson and then-RNC Deputy Chief Bill Janes spoke to reporters during a news conference at RCMP headquarters in St. John's.
They told reporters the two key priorities for the joint investigation with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, which began in April 2013, were to identify high-risk offenders making child pornography available, while the other was to remove victims from harm.
The joint task force had taken on the operation as it extended into Newfoundland and Labrador, working with officers in communities throughout the province to execute nine related search warrants.
Authorities seized 43 computers, 72 external drives and 3,000 DVDs and CDs through the course of the investigation, executing 23 warrants across Atlantic Canada.
It's the fourth case in the last few weeks in which police investigative tactics were called into question in court cases.
Last week, Sullivan represented a man, Mohamed Elseify, who had child luring charges dismissed due to Charter violations by police.
Earlier this week, fraud charges were thrown out against Bill Clarke, the owner of the once-celebrated real estate development company Myles-Legér, and the company’s accountant Terrence Reardon because police delays resulted in it taking too long — 8 1/2 years to get the case to trial.
Also, the RNC's use of a criminal informant resulted in drug trafficking charges being called into question in several drug cases in the region.