It was a particularly short appeal hearing, and an especially odd one.
Appearing before a panel of judges at the province’s Court of Appeal in St. John’s Tuesday, prosecutor Dana Sullivan and defence lawyer Mark Gruchy agreed that former Anglican priest and convicted child sex offender Robin Barrett should get a new trial for his most recent charges.
Barrett was acquitted of charges of distributing, accessing and possessing child pornography by Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Justice Vikas Khaladkar in June 2018, after the judge ruled the majority of evidence against Barrett was not admissible.
Police had executed a search warrant on Barrett’s Conception Bay South home in July 2015, having received information that a computer IP number at that address was involved in the access and distribution of child pornography. Before their search began, and after Barrett had indicated he wanted to speak with a lawyer, one of the police officers asked him a question about the alleged offence, thereby breaching his rights, the judge concluded. As a result, none of the evidence seized after that point was admissible and Barrett was acquitted of all charges.
The Crown appealed Barrett’s acquittal, saying the judge made a mistake in throwing out the evidence, and that neither it nor the defence had been given the opportunity to make arguments on the issue of exclusion.
Despite the fact that Barrett had won his case, Gruchy said he could not properly say the trial had been a fair one. On Tuesday, he and Sullivan asked for that issue alone to be the deciding factor on appeal, and for the appeal judges to order a new trial.
The judges will deliver their decision in the coming months.
Barrett is already a registered sex offender, having been convicted of child pornography offences in 2010. He pleaded guilty at that time to possessing and distributing child pornography after police found 31,460 images and 3,451 videos of the material on his computer data, some depicting children as young as six months old. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail and named to the national sex offender registry for 20 years.
— With files from Rosie Mullaley
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