Collet Dawn Stephan v. Her Majesty the Queen

(Alberta) (Criminal) (As of Right)

(Certain information not available to the public)


Criminal law - Elements of offence, Charge to jury - Criminal law - Failing to provide necessaries of life - Elements of offence - Charge to jury - Whether trial judge’s instruction to jury with respect to elements of offence constituted reversible error.


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The appellant was convicted by a jury of failing to provide the necessaries of life to her son, Ezekiel, who died of meningitis. She appealed her conviction, arguing that the trial judge’s charge to the jury was inadequate, that the trial was unfair and amounted to a miscarriage of justice, and that her rights to be tried within a reasonable time were breached. The majority in the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. O’Ferrall J.A., dissenting, would have allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial. He was of the view that the trial judge’s charge to the jury was confusing, misleading and deficient in describing a key element of the offence, and that the trial judge did not properly instruct the jury on the fault element or the mens rea of the offence.