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New child pornography trial ordered for former Anglican priest Robin Barrett

Former Anglican priest Robin Barrett. — TARA BRADBURY FILE PHOTO/THE TELEGRAM
Former Anglican priest Robin Barrett. — TARA BRADBURY FILE PHOTO/THE TELEGRAM

Judge had made ‘fatal’ error in excluding evidence, the province’s court of appeal rules

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Former Anglican priest Robin Barrett will have a new trial on child pornography charges.

Having heard an appeal by the Crown two weeks ago, a panel of judges has agreed that Barrett’s original trial judge made a mistake when he excluded evidence before hearing all the legal arguments in the case.

Barrett was acquitted of charges of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography in June 2018, after Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Justice Vikas Khaladkar ruled the majority of evidence against him was not admissible.

Police 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.


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Before their search began, and after Barrett 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.

At trial, Crown and defence lawyers agreed to make their submissions on the exclusion of the evidence in two parts, but Khaladkar decided on the issue before the second part was completed.

Crown prosecutor Dana Sullivan appealed Barrett’s acquittal, and when the appeal was heard earlier this month, defence lawyer Mark Gruchy agreed on that basis alone that a new trial was appropriate.

The panel of appeal judges issued their decision earlier this week, saying “the trial judge was not at liberty to decide the remedy issue without affording counsel the opportunity to make submissions.”

It was a “fatal” error, the appeal judges said.

“It was a crucial issue and in effect, was the main issue for trial. The verdicts would not necessarily have been the same had the error not occurred,” they wrote.

No date has yet been set for the new trial.

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

Twitter: @tara_bradbury | Facebook: @Telegramtara


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