By JEREMY APPEL on May 16, 2019.
A $1-million lawsuit alleging “malicious” prosecution against Connie Oakes by the Medicine Hat Police Service and Crown has been dismissed in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
The statement of claim, filed by Edmonton-based lawyer Thomas Engel on April 27, 2018, was never served to the defendants, and Engel withdrew from the file without notifying them, court heard Wednesday.
When contacted by the Crown, Engel’s office provided them with a phone number to reach Oakes, but there was no answer or response.
Engel’s office confirmed with the Crown that they have no record of service.
“The claim is in essence null and void if there’s no service,” ruled Master J.B. Hanebury.
On Nov. 15, 2013, Oakes was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder in the May 2011 death of Casey Armstrong, for which she was charged alongside Wendy Scott.
Oakes was sentenced to life with no parole eligibility for 14 years, but that was overturned by the Alberta Court of Appeal on April 6, 2016.
Scott – who pled guilty to second-degree murder and was the only direct witness to the crime – was deemed unreliable due to inconsistencies in her testimony and severe cognitive limitations.
Scott’s sentence of life in prison with no parole eligibility for 10 years was also overturned on appeal.
The Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for both accused, but the charges against Oakes were stayed on April 29, 2016, and Scott on Jan. 15, 2017. Neither case was re-activated in the one-year window the Crown has to do so.
After Scott’s charges were stayed, Sen. Kim Pate – a former executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies – called for a public inquiry into how the homicide was handled by the Crown and MHPS.
Months later, Oakes pled guilty to aggravated assault, forcible confinement and uttering threats charges in relation to a stabbing that occurred in Maple Creek, for which she was ultimately sentenced to 18 months in custody.
The statement of claim for Oakes’s lawsuit alleged the MHPS and Crown “participated in procuring a wrongful imprisonment and a wrongful conviction.”
According to the suit, police conducted “improperly aggressive interrogations of Scott,” which led her to implicate Oakes.
It also alleges the MHPS “deliberately deterred witnesses” who would have substantiated Oakes’s alibi.
The suit names local Crown prosecutor Andrea Dolan (now Pocha-Robbenhaar), as well as several MHPS officers – including chief Andy McGrogan – as defendants, misspelling then-inspector Glen Motz’s name as “Monz.”
Engel declined request for comment.
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