Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear appeal in Sandeson case

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William Sandeson is escorted into his preliminary hearing at provincial court in Halifax on Thursday, February 11, 2016. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press - image credit)
William Sandeson is escorted into his preliminary hearing at provincial court in Halifax on Thursday, February 11, 2016. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The Supreme Court of Canada is refusing to hear an appeal in the case of William Sandeson, a former Dalhousie medical school student who is accused of killing fellow Dalhousie student Taylor Samson in August 2015.

The Crown sought to appeal a Nova Scotia court decision that granted Sandeson a new trial on a charge of first-degree murder. Sandeson was convicted following a jury trial in 2017.

But last summer, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal overturned that conviction, saying the trial judge had erred when he failed to declare a mistrial in the middle of the first trial.

Sandeson's lawyers had requested a mistrial after they found out that a private detective they had hired to question witnesses had provided information to police.

The Supreme Court of Canada issued a brief statement Thursday morning, listing cases where lawyers were asking the country's top court to review a decision of a lower court.

The Crown's request in the Sandeson matter was among 17 cases that were denied a further hearing. As is usual, the court offered no explanation for its decision.

The matter now returns to Nova Scotia Supreme Court to resume the process for a second murder trial.

The case joins a lengthy queue of postponed cases caused by the pandemic. There have been no criminal jury trials in the Halifax area since last March, which the rapid spread of COVID-19 brought most proceedings to a halt.

Officials have determined that jury trials cannot be held at the Law Courts in downtown Halifax because the building is not compliant with pandemic restrictions on physical distancing.

Two new purpose-built courtrooms are scheduled to open next month in Dartmouth to begin hearing jury trials. At last count, there were about two dozen cases needing to be scheduled with more being added all the time.

Just last month, Sandeson failed in his second bid to be released from jail while he awaits this new trial. The reasons behind the judge's decision in the bail application cannot be released in order to protect Sandeson's right to a fair trial.

Sandeson has kept a busy legal schedule during his time behind bars. He successfully sued his former Halifax roommate in small claims court for items Sandeson said disappeared from their apartment after his arrest on the murder charge.

Sandeson has also launched a lawsuit against the private detective.

The hand-written notice legal notice William Sandeson filed from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside, in November 2020.
The hand-written notice legal notice William Sandeson filed from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside, in November 2020.

Most recently, he started legal action against Nova Scotia's attorney general and the superintendent of a provincial jail, claiming they denied him the right to vote in last year's municipal elections in Nova Scotia.

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