Judge scolds Mountie for ‘baffling’ conduct in assault case
Defence lawyers Scott Newman and Omri Plotnik argued provincial court Judge Victoria Cornick should enter a judicial stay on the grounds Horvath’s lapse had prevented their client from receiving a fair trial. Cornick dismissed the motion, ruling she was satisfied the man’s right to a full defence had not been compromised by the lost evidence.
But Cornick, in a recently released written ruling, had sharp words for Horvath’s conduct.
“This dismissal in no way should be interpreted by the Crown and especially by Const. Horvath as vindication of any sort,” Cornick said.
“While I found no malice or ill will in his conduct, it remains baffling that the officer did not have any independent recollection of the events surrounding the (interview) and that he did not take notes or allow himself any mechanism by which to refresh his memory. In so doing, he did a disservice to himself as lead investigator, to this court and to the parties to this proceeding.”
Horvath testified he did not remember if he took a statement in October, then later told court he did not believe one existed.
“Yet he also recalled searching high and low for the statement within the detachment,” Cornick said. “It is unclear why he would do that if he were firm in his belief that one was not taken.”
The judge ultimately acquitted the accused. She said significant inconsistencies in the alleged victim’s evidence, including the nature of the alleged assaults and when they occurred, rendered her testimony unreliable.
Cornick said Horvath’s inexperience and failure to follow his training, including note-taking, was a “costly and embarrassing mistake.”
“His inability to recall anything about the investigation leading up to the Dec. 6, 2020, interview is a clear reflection of these failures,” she said. “It rendered the investigation deficient and overcomplicated the adjudication of this matter.”
“While the court is expected to use a flexible common sense approach to the evidence of children, it must be cautious not to completely ignore frailties in its credibility and reliability,” Cornick said.