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(Posted 5:30 a.m., Jan. 27)
Judge orders retrial in 16-year-old Cumberland murder case
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Canada's longest and costliest murder case could get a lot more expensive. Two weeks after a provincial Superior Court judge stayed first-degree murder charges against Richard Trudel and James Sauve in connection with the 1990 slaying of Michel Giroux and his pregnant common-law wife Manon Bourdeau, the Ontario Court of Appeal has ordered a retrial for co-accused Richard Mallory and Robert Stewart who were convicted of second and first degree murder charges respectively in 2000.

Giroux and Bourdeau were gunned down in their Cumberland home in the spring of 1990, setting in motion the longest and most expensive murder case in Canadian history.

Justice Colin MacKinnon stayed first degree murder charges against Trudel and Sauve on the eve of their second trial earlier this month on the grounds that they had waited to long for a retrial and there were too many errors made when they were originally convicted of first degree murder in 2004.

In their ruling Friday, the Ontario Court of Appeal pointed to the "number and gravity of the errors" they found in the Crown's case against them.

In particular they criticized the original trial judge’s failure to adequately charging the jury regarding “disreputable witnesses” and certain “hearsay evidence.”

"In light of the number and gravity of the errors the appeals against conviction must be allowed, the convictions set aside, and a new trial ordered,” the ruling reads.

During the original trial, the Crown case was largely based on the evidence of a paid informer. Denis Gaudreault testified that he procured weapons for the four men and drove them to the couple's Cumberland home.

Giroux was a small time drug dealer who owed money to Stewart. Trudel was an associate of Stewart's and Sauve was his enforcer. Gaudreault testified that when they arrived at the couple's home Mallory, Trudel and Sauve went into the house while he and Stewart remained in the car.

Giroux was shot and killed in the front room of the house and Bourdeau was killed with a single shotgun blast to the back of the head in the bedroom.

There was no forensic evidence linking the four accused to the scene, which meant the entire case hinged on Gaudreault's testimony who was painted as a pathological liar by the defence. The case against the men began to fall apart when Gaudreault started started having memory lapses. He also admitted to lying to the police, fabricating evidence and that he had lied at the preliminary inquiry.

Whether or not the Crown plans to appeal this latest decision is still under consideration.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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