Her Majesty the Queen v. Craig Pope
(Newfoundland & Labrador) (Criminal) (As of Right)
Criminal law — Charge to jury — Second degree murder — Lesser and included offence of manslaughter — Whether the Court of Appeal erred in law by finding that the position taken by counsel at trial is not a factor to be considered in assessing the trial judge’s instructions to the jury — Whether the Court of Appeal erred in law by finding that the trial judge’s jury instructions, including the decision tree, were deficient in relation to the elements of manslaughter — Whether the Court of Appeal erred in law by finding the trial judge’s answer to the jury’s question, and the example of manslaughter given to the jury, was deficient — Whether the Court of Appeal erred in law by overturning the second degree murder conviction and ordering a new trial.
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Following a trial by jury, the respondent, Craig Pope, was convicted of second degree murder. A majority of the Court of Appeal allowed Mr. Pope’s appeal from conviction and ordered a new trial. In its view, the trial judge erred by failing to properly instruct the jury on the included offence of manslaughter. The majority was of the view that the difference between murder and manslaughter, particularly regarding the question of intent, was not explained with sufficient clarity. In dissent, Goodridge J.A. would have dismissed the appeal. First, he rejected the respondent’s argument that the decision tree prepared by the trial judge for the jury failed to define the included offence of manslaughter. Second, he rejected the argument that the example of manslaughter given to the jury by the trial judge in response to a question was misleading. Finally, he disagreed that the jury charge failed to alert the jury or provide a limiting instruction that the respondent’s flight from the scene was of no probative value in choosing between second degree murder and manslaughter.
Lower Court Rulings
Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, General Division
Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador
201901H0095, 2021 NLCA 47
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