Randy Druken, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1990s, dies at 57

Randy Druken, seen in this photo from 2007, died suddenly Dec. 25th. ((CBC) - image credit)
Randy Druken, seen in this photo from 2007, died suddenly Dec. 25th. ((CBC) - image credit)
(CBC)
(CBC)

A St. John's man who spent more than six years in prison in the 1990s after being wrongfully convicted of murder has died.

According to an obituary, Randy Druken died suddenly on Christmas Day.

Druken was convicted in the 1993 murder of his then-girlfriend Brenda Young, based on the testimony of a jailhouse informant who later retracted his story, saying that he had been bullied into lying by the police and crown.

He served more than six years before being granted an appeal in 1999.

Druken was awarded $2 million in compensation in 2006, and was part of the Lamer inquiry examining wrongful convictions in Newfoundland and Labrador.

At the time, former Supreme Court justice Antonio Lamer concluded Druken and another man in a separate case, Gregory Parsons, were the victims of overzealous prosecutors and police investigations plagued by "tunnel vision." Lamer also found that the system had failed Ronald Dalton, who waited eight years for a second trial that found him not guilty of murder.

CBC
CBC

The conviction split the Druken family apart, with Randy maintaining his innocence and at the time expressing a suspicion of his brother Derek.

During the inquiry it was revealed that Derek had been acting as police informant at the time, and had been the one to tip off the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary that his brother Randy was the murderer.

DNA evidence later put Druken's brother Paul at the scene of the crime.

It was also revealed at the inquiry that the murder and wrongful conviction had been the seed of the feud between Derek and Jody Druken that ended with the shooting death of Derek, and Jody sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter.

'I firmly believe that you can start over'

When Druken was awarded compensation, he told reporters that it was hard to put a dollar amount on the six years he spent in prison.

"You'll never be able to start over. I mean, what we'll have to go through, we went through. There's no denying that," Druken said.

"But to start to make a new life? Yes. I firmly believe that you can start over that way."

Druken leaves behind a large family, including eight grandchildren. He was 57 years old.

His funeral will be held in St. John's on Jan. 4.

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