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Ontario Appeal Court reminds trial judges to scrutinize inconsistencies in evidence

On issues of credibility, trial judges need to adequately scrutinize inconsistencies in evidence — particularly with reference to prior consistent statements — said the Ontario Court of Appeal in ordering a new trial for a man convicted in 2018 of one count of sexual interference involving his stepdaughter, who was about 10 years old when the offence allegedly occurred six years earlier.


Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt, a partner with Abergel Goldstein & Partners LLP, said the ruling is the latest from the appellate court to address inconsistencies in evidence and the evaluation of its credibility, “but most importantly, the use of prior consistent statements.”


Spratt, an Ontario Law Society certified specialist in criminal law, said that defence counsel doesn’t need to show a complainant’s reasons for lying, but the existence of such a motive is a “powerful factor” in considering a case.


Spratt said that when there is only witness evidence to support judicial findings, “we have to make sure that we avoid every possible trap that can lead to wrongful convictions. One of those traps is assuming people who tell the same story over and over again must be telling the truth. That might be true most of the time, but definitely not all of the time.”

Read Chris Guly’s full story: Lawyer’s Daily

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