Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Man sentenced to hang for a rape-murder and who lived with the stigma of a wrongful conviction for 50 years is finally cleared

In 1959, a 14-year-old boy was falsely convicted of the rape and murder of a 12-year-old classmate and was convicted to hang. Although he was released from prison in 1969 and has maintained his innocence ever since, the man -- now 63-years-old -- has finally been cleared by new evidence. He's been compensated for his ordeal by the government.

The man and his wife issued a joint statement to which nothing could possibly be added: `"No amount of money could ever truly compensate Steven for the terror of being sentenced to hang at the age of 14, the loss of his youth, or the stigma of living for almost 50 years as a convicted murderer.''

The compensation paid to this man was only proper.

Ontario Man Gets C$6.5 Million for False Murder Conviction

By Joe Schneider

July 7 (Bloomberg) -- An Ontario man who was sentenced to hang for a 1959 murder that he didn't commit will get compensation of C$6.5 million ($6.4 million) from the government.

Steven Truscott was 14 when he became the youngest Canadian to be sentenced to death, for the rape and murder of 12-year-old classmate Lynne Harper. Truscott, now 63, maintained he was innocent. His sentence was reduced on appeal and he was released on parole in 1969.

``I hope that Mr. Truscott and his family will now have the opportunity to move forward with their lives,'' Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley said today in a statement.

A five-judge panel of the Court of Appeal for Ontario last year cleared Truscott after reviewing evidence and hearing new testimony.

The review was ordered in 2005 by Canada's then- Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, who said a 700-page report by federal investigators indicated ``there is reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice occurred.''

Truscott, the son of an enlisted man at an air force base near Clinton, in southwestern Ontario, has said he gave Harper a bike ride after school. Her body was found two days later in a bush. He was charged and convicted.

After his release from prison, Truscott, a millwright, lived in Guelph, Ontario, under an assumed name until 2000, when he was the subject of a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. documentary in which he asked for a chance to prove his innocence.

`Loss of Youth'

``No amount of money could ever truly compensate Steven for the terror of being sentenced to hang at the age of 14, the loss of his youth, or the stigma of living for almost 50 years as a convicted murderer,'' Truscott and his wife Marlene said today in a joint statement.

The last execution in Canada occurred Dec. 11, 1962, when two men were hanged in Toronto, according to Amnesty International. Canada abolished the death penalty, with exceptions for military offenses such as treason, in 1976. In 1998, the federal government removed the references to the death penalty from the National Defence Act.

``This is the most well-known, to use a neutral term, criminal case in Ontario in the last 100 years,'' Judge David Doherty said during the appeal court hearing in Toronto.

The case is In the Matter of a Reference re Steven Murray Truscott (C42726/M33326), Court of Appeal for Ontario, Toronto.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Toronto at jschneider5@bloomberg.net. Last Updated: July 7, 2008 12:17 EDT

Link: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=alnGLyvxSOBI