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Special Prosecutor: Potential miscarriage of justice in Tammy Bouvette conviction

Marilyn Sandford, the Special Prosecutor appointed to review the prosecution of Tammy Bouvette’s conviction of criminal negligence causing death believes a potential miscarriage of justice occurred.

The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) released Sandford’s findings and recommendation from her review of the Cranbrook case.

In 2011, Bouvette was charged with second-degree murder following the death of a child. The 19-month-old had drowned in a bathtub while Bouvette was babysitting, she had phoned 9-1-1 and the child was airlifted to Calgary, but later died. The case was concluded in 2013 with Bouvette’s conviction of criminal negligence causing death and a one-year prison sentence.

PREVIOUS: Special Prosecutor to review conduct in Cranbrook child drowning case (Jan. 17, 2020)

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Sandford, a senior lawyer from Vancouver was appointed on January 14th, 2020 by Peter Juk, the Assistant Deputy Attorney General (ADAG).

“The ADAG concluded, based on the inquiries and the information available about the case that a Special Prosecutor should be appointed to avoid any significant potential for real or perceived improper influence in the administration of criminal justice,” read a statement from the BCPS in January 2020, following Sandford’s appointment.

Reviewing the case for over a year, Sandford’s mandate was to conduct a review of Bouvette’s case and how it was handled by the BCPS at the time. The review was to determine if a miscarriage of justice occurred in the course of the prosecution and to take any remedial steps to rectify the matter if necessary.

Sandford’s written report on her recently completed review include’s the following conclusions and recommendations:

  • There is a strong case to be made that Ms. Bouvette did not receive disclosure of significant, relevant materials
  • As a result of that non-disclosure, Ms. Bouvette’s Charter rights may well have been breached and that her conviction may accordingly represent a miscarriage of justice
  • Appellate review is desirable in order to determine whether a potential miscarriage of justice has occurred
  • Ms. Bouvette should be provided with copies of all of the materials collected as part of the Special Prosecutor’s investigation, with necessary redactions of those materials or portions thereof that do not meet the test of relevance or with respect to which redaction is otherwise justified based upon the application of relevant legal principles
  • If Ms. Bouvette applies to the British Columbia Court of Appeal for an extension of time to file a notice of appeal from conviction on the basis of matters raised in the Special Prosecutor’s report and the new disclosure provided to her, the Crown will not oppose her request that the Court extend the time for filing a notice of appeal
  • If Ms. Bouvette applies to the Court of Appeal to file fresh evidence on appeal related to any disclosure materials that were not previously disclosed to her, the Crown will not oppose such an application.

At this time, the BCPS said Sandford will remain Special Prosecutor on the matter as she begins to implement her conclusions and recommendations on the case.

“As the BCPS anticipates that this matter may soon be back before the court the BCPS will not be releasing additional information or commenting further at this time,” concluded the BC Prosecution Service.

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