His Majesty the King v. Emily Henderson also known as Ryan Henderson

(British Columbia) (Criminal) (By Leave)


Criminal law — Offences — Elements of offence — Contempt — Actual knowledge — Whether short-form script used by police to summarize terms of injunction fixed respondent with actual knowledge of injunction — Wilful blindness — Whether respondent was wilfully blind to terms of injunction.


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On October 20, 2021, the respondent, Mx. Henderson, was protesting the harvest of timber in an area of Vancouver Island known as Fairy Creek. They did so by positioning themselves in a roadway in such a way as to make the road impassable. The respondent’s activities were prohibited by an injunction issued by the British Columbia Supreme Court (the “Injunction”). Police approached the respondent and, in accordance with their practice, read a short-form script intended to summarize the material terms of the Injunction (the “Script”). Police asked the respondent if they would leave the roadway; the respondent declined. Police arrested them and the Crown assumed carriage of the criminal contempt prosecution.

Actual knowledge of or wilful blindness to the terms of an injunction are required to establish criminal contempt. The trial judge held that while the Injunction itself was not ambiguous, the Script did not convey sufficient information to fix the respondent with actual knowledge of its material terms, and there was insufficient evidence to establish that the respondent was wilfully blind to those terms. In acquitting the respondent, the trial judge noted that an earlier case in which he held that the Script was sufficient to fix an accused with actual knowledge was distinguishable because the accused in the earlier case did not argue that the Script was deficient.

Lower Court Rulings

February 8, 2023
Supreme Court of British Columbia

2023 BCSC 201, S211602
Respondent acquitted after trial.