April 12, 1999
Your editorial on Monday, April 12th, 1999 entitled “Error in Law” is simply wrong and very unfair.
Mr. Justice David Watt is probably the most experienced trial judge in murder cases in this province and his trial results have rarely, if ever, been interfered with by the Court of Appeal. In addition to being a law school classmate, Justice Watt is married to my law partner. Neither of these facts has contributed in the slightest to the high regard in which I hold Justice Watt. This is evidenced by the prevalence of that high regard among others working in the administration of justice.
Your editorial claims that 1) Alison Parrott was almost certainly killed by a man posing as a track and field photographer; 2) the accused’s residence contained a 35 mm. camera and a fake ID card identifying him as a cameraman; so, 3) the exclusion of the evidence by Justice Watt on the basis it was unfairly prejudicial rather than probative was “ridiculous”.
What is ridiculous—and shameful—is your apparent, shocking ignorance of the actual facts.
The 35 mm. camera and fake ID were seized in 1996 from the apartment Mr. Roy shared with a girlfriend. The camera was owned by the girlfriend. She and Mr. Roy did not meet until 1992, and she bought the camera in about 1994. Is it really “ridiculous” to suggest this has nothing to do with the tragedy years earlier?
The woman Roy lived with in 1986 had only a small Kodak Instamatic camera (as do millions of other people; what are the odds of having a friend that does not have a small camera?) Alison had taken some classes in photography and would, according to her mother, certainly know the difference between a small Kodak and a 35 mm. camera (or a “track and field photographer’s camera). The jury heard such evidence as existed of Roy taking pictures on some or other occasions around the time of the homicide. Such relevant evidence was admitted. No probative evidence was denied the jury by excluding the 1996 camera.
As for the fake ID, yes, Mr. Roy was found with a collection of false ID. That there is abundant evidence of bad character on the part of Mr. Roy was not in issue but in fact is exactly what Justice Watt had to ensure did not deprive him of his constitutional right to a fair trial. The relevant piece was stolen in the early 1990′s and identified the holder as a camera operator for a TV station. No video camera was suggested as being seen or found in the accused’s possession, or as having anything to do with the case. Again, fake ID from this time frame, years after the homicide, obviously had nothing to do with the homicide some years earlier.
The National Post had, some of us thought, brought (except for one of your columnists) a more rational, reasonable perspective to crime reporting. Your editorial was the kind of item I expect from your competitors, who have never let facts obstruct their diligent quest for sales-boosting public frenzy.
You owe Justice Watt an apology.
Yours very truly,
ALAN D. GOLD