Newfoundlander Wade Skiffington was granted bail Wednesday in Vancouver, B.C., in the 1994 murder of his common-law wife, Wanda Martin, but her parents say it doesn’t mean anything for what they believe is his guilt.
“We are obviously disappointed,” Douglas Martin of Conception Bay South said Wednesday of the bail decision.
“It doesn’t change anything,’ said his wife, Beverly. “As far as we are concerned there is a guilty man walking amongst us. Even if the judicial review has a different conclusion, we stand firm. There is nothing that makes him innocent in our minds.
“The review will be going on over the next several years … two years, three years — we don’t know how long it takes.”
Skiffington has proclaimed his innocence in the 1994 murder of Martin in Richmond, B.C.
He was found guilty based on a confession to undercover police as part of a so-called Mr. Big operation that began five years after Martin was shot six times.
Justice Michael Tammen said Wednesday he agreed with defence counsel that Skiffington would have been released on parole four years ago if he hadn’t continued to claim his innocence.
Martin’s body was found in a friend’s apartment along with the couple’s unharmed 18-month-old son.
Martin was in B.C. for just six weeks when she was killed, and had started an education degree at MUN she planned to continue with distance courses and studies in B.C.
The federal justice minister is reviewing Skiffington’s conviction after an appeal by lawyers with Innocence Canada, which is also challenging the credibility of the undercover sting, arguing that police extracted a false confession.
Tammen said it isn’t in the public interest to keep Skiffington in prison because his behaviour in prison suggests he is neither a risk to public safety nor a flight risk, and the justice minister could take years to reach a decision.
He imposed several bail conditions, including that Skiffington live with his father in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Skiffington’s father told the court during the bail hearing he would put up $100,000 in cash and his home as a surety for his son’s release.
Crown counsel Hank Reiner opposed Skiffington’s release and told a bail hearing earlier this month Skiffington knew his common-law wife would be alone for at least 20 minutes while she visited her friend, and that provided him an opportunity to kill her on Sept. 6, 1994.
Reiner said Skiffington’s anger motivated him to kill Martin because he’d run into a man he believed was having an affair with her shortly before the murder, and he also didn’t want her to return to Newfoundland and Labrador with their son.
The court has heard Skiffington told the boss of a fictitious crime group he shot Martin four, five or six times, emptying the cartridge, and that he changed his clothes in case any gunshot residue ended up on them.
But Tammen said Skiffington’s confession didn’t include details that would have been known only to the killer and didn’t lead police to discover any new evidence.
He said police swabbed Skiffington’s hands for gunshot evidence after the crime, but found nothing, and a phone number Skiffington had written on his hand was still visible, suggesting he had not scrubbed it clean.