William Scott Clifford v. Her Majesty the Queen

(British Columbia) (Criminal) (As of Right)


Criminal law - Defences, Alibi, Evidence, Similar fact evidence.


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Criminal law - Defences - Alibi - Evidence - Similar fact evidence - Whether the trial judge erred in using the appellant’s disbelieved alibi as post-offence conduct supportive of guilt - Whether the trial judge erred by treating an incident of attempted wilful damage as similar fact evidence probative of the issue of identity.

Mr. Clifford, appellant, was convicted of one count of arson and one count of mischief. He allegedly burned down his ex-girlfriend’s parents’ garage and girdled trees on their property. During the investigation, Mr. Clifford provided an alibi to police which the trial judge later rejected. On appeal, Mr. Clifford argued, among other things, that the trial judge erred in using the disbelieved alibi as evidence of guilt. He also argued that the trial judge erred by admitting what amounted to similar fact evidence. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Newbury J.A., dissenting, would have allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial.