James Andrew Beaver v. His Majesty the King

(Alberta) (Criminal) (By Leave)


Criminal law - Charter of Rights, Evidence, Admissibility - Criminal law - Charter of Rights - Evidence - Admissibility - Reasonable and probable grounds for arrest - Under what circumstances can police attempts at a “fresh start” insulate evidence from admissibility consideration pursuant to s. 24(2) of the Charter - Should judicial scrutiny of reasonable and probable grounds be more stringent in circumstances where the arrestee was unlawfully detained and police have no notes regarding the grounds for arrest or the information relied upon - What information must be imparted to a detainee to permit them to make a meaningful choice about whether or not to speak with police?.


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The appellant and his co-accused were convicted of manslaughter in relation to the death of their roommate. After being initially detained by officers at the scene under a non-existent act, they were arrested by detectives for murder two hours later at the police station. Following a lengthy interview, the co-accused confessed to their involvement in the death of the roommate; when confronted with the confession, the appellant admitted his participation as well. At trial, the appellant sought a stay of proceedings or, alternatively, the exclusion of all evidence which derived from alleged violations of his rights protected by ss. 7, 9, 10(a) and 10(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The appellant also alleged that the detective who arrested him at the station did not have reasonable and probable grounds to do so. The Crown conceded that the appellant’s Charter rights had been breached when he was detained under a non-existent law, but argued that the arrest at the station constituted a “fresh start” which insulated his confession from the previous breaches. The trial judge dismissed the application, finding that the police had reasonable and probable grounds to arrest the appellant for murder at the police station, and that the arrest constituted a “fresh start” which cured the previous breaches. He concluded that the appellant’s subsequent confession had not been tainted by the breaches. Nevertheless, the trial judge conducted a s. 24(2) analysis as set out in R. v. Grant, 2009 SCC 32, and concluded that the confession would have been admitted, in any event. The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appellant’s appeal.