Lawyers for four men charged in violent robberies seek stay due to unreasonable delay

Article originally appeared in: Calgary Sun

By Kevin Martin, Post Media Network

The lawyers for four men charged in a series of violent robberies -- including one where a store manager was kidnapped -- said Monday the charges should be stayed because of unreasonable delay.

Defence counsel Shamsher Kothari, who represents Hasson Wilson, whom police have labelled the mastermind behind a series of offences, said the delay in the case has kept his client behind bars for years.

Wilson and the others were arrested Feb. 24, 2014, and because of late disclosure by the Crown, Kothari said, isn't set to go to trial until early 2018.

"My client's been waiting now 47 1/2 months for this trial," Kothari told Justice Bryan Mahoney of the new schedule, which has the trial concluding Feb 16, 2018.

"There's no other way to deal with this, but for a stay," the lawyer said.

Wilson, along with Ivan Willis, Abraham Latife and Jamar Sterling, face multiple charges including robbery and kidnapping in connection with a series of heists at grocery stores as well as other alleged offences.

They were set to go to trial earlier this month, but that was adjourned until 2018, on Sept. 19, when the lawyers for the four accused sought a delay because they hadn't received complete disclosure.

Kothari argued that delay must lay at the feet of the Crown since it was caused by the fact important material was not provided to the defence in time by prosecutor Bob Sigurdson.

But he said even if that 15-month time period isn't attributable to the prosecution, the 32 months between Wilson's arrest and the original trial date is beyond guidelines set earlier this year by the Supreme Court.

In that July ruling, the nation's top court set a 30-month cap for Court of Queen's Bench trials to be completed.

Kothari said at best his client is responsible for a two-week delay in proceedings, putting this case beyond what the Supreme Court says is reasonable.

But Crown prosecutor James Pickard countered the disclosure the defence was seeking which caused the delays as relatively unimportant and would not have changed how they handled the case.

Pickard said the only late disclosure which might have impacted the defence case was a statement by witness Troy Wareham provided to them on Sept. 12.

But Pickard said the remedy for that late disclosure should have been an order prohibiting the Crown from calling Wareham in its case.

He said if defence counsel wanted Wareham to testify in their cases, they could have sought an adjournment.

Lawyer Joan Blumer, who represents Latife, would have wanted to do just that, as she said her client's only involvement in the entire case was being in a vehicle with others when the arrests were made.

She said Wareham's statement indicated her client was only there looking for a smoke.

"He was only in the car because he wanted a cigarette," Blumer said.

"For that he has been dragged by the ear for two years waiting for a trial."

Mahoney will hand down a decision next month.