This essay will give a critical review of the R-v-Guy Paul Morin case, which started to take place in Canada over twenty years ago. It will look at both the prosecution and defence cases, the evidence given within both cases and the decisions from both court cases and the appeal, which finally freed Guy Paul Morin.
On New Years Eve 1984 Christine Jessop a nine-year-old girl from Ontario, Canada was found murdered in a field about fifty kilometres from where she lived. Christine Jessop’s body had been left in disgusting position, she had also been sexually assaulted and decapitated. The police felt they needed to arrest this killer before another similar crime could be committed. After extensive investigation by the police of at least three hundred and fifty suspects, a young musician and next door neighbour of the Jessop’s, Guy Paul Morin was arrested and spent eleven months in jail waiting for the case to be brought to trial. Whilst incarcerated, an undercover officer was placed in Morin’s cell to try and extract information from him relating to the crime. This was done because the police were aware of the weakness of their case. In all the time Morin was under observation, by the undercover officer, he at no point admitted any involvement in the murder of Christine Jessop. In 1986 the case went to trial, mid-way through, in an astonishing tactic Morin’s lawyer tried to prove that he was schizophrenic. The jury didn’t believe the evidence of the schizophrenia, but never the less Morin was still acquitted of the crime.
In the years following the acquittal the Canadian legal system was tested to its limits, Morin’s acquittal was reversed and a new trial was ordered. In 1992 Morin was found guilty of the murder and sentenced to twenty-five years with no chance of parole. In the years following new DNA evidence surfaced proving that Morin was a convenient fall guy in a badly botched investigation. There were a lot of questions, which needed to be asked of both the investigation and the centre of forensic investigation.
The prosicution team knew that their case was weak and thus as mentioned before an under cover officer was placed in a cell with Morin. According to the officer, when he asked Morin how he managed to deal with life’s frustrations, Morin answered, “Me I just redrum the innocent. That’s my cure man.” It was this reference to The Shining by Stephen King, which convinced the police that they had indeed found the killer of Christine Jessop. Morin claims he never made any such reference and in another strange turn of events, the tape-recorded conversation between the officer and Morin was in fact inaudible. The case rested largely on the Centre of Forensic Science and the judgement of Nyznyk about hairs and fibres linking Morin to the crime scene. The Morin prosecutors put far more weight on the fibre evidence gathered at the scene than should have been allowed. On top of all that, the police found a cigarette butt near Christine’s body; it was photographed and bagged as evidence. At the time of finding the butt, its relevance to the case was uncertain; this was due to the fact that the butt could have been discarded at the scene before, during or after the murder. The latter would seem unlikely but in an ironic twist, the butt did in fact belong to one of the officers at the scene that day. On January 7th, 1986, Detective Fitzpatrick called a meeting between himself and any officers attending the body site who were smokers. It was discovered that Constable Cameron had in fact discarded his own cigarette near the body, and later realising it was inappropriate, removed it. Unfortunately, photographs taken at the scene depict that the cigarette was of a different brand to those consumed by any of the officers – which in turn suggests that Constable Cameron accidentally removed and disposed of evidence, leaving his own cigarette as a substitute. Sergeant Michalowsky later testified that no cigarette butts were found at all. Jessop’s mother testified at the inquiry about the investigation that police pressured her to change her testimony about the time she arrived home on the day her daughter disappeared, allowing an extra 20 minutes for Morin to come home from work and abduct Christine. The prosecutions case was built on false hope and evidence, which should never have been brought to court in the first place. The defence case was based around the fact that there was no substantial evidence to back up the prosecutions case. For example the fact that Morin didn’t search enough when Christine went missing in the first place. Morin didn’t go to the funeral home and didn’t send his condolences to the Jessop family. This sort of evidence is very petty and nowhere near enough to convict Morin of the murder. Nyznyk and her head of department, Norman Erickson, were both aware that the evidence was contaminated, this information however was not given to the jurors at either of Morin’s trials. The matching fibres used by the prosecution team as one of the main pieces of evidence for the trial, that were found both in Morin’s vehicle and on the clothing worn by Christine Jessop were nothing more than contamination from the lab. It was suggested that one possible source of contamination was jumper worn by the technician who vacuumed Morin’s car. Forensic misconduct is the reason the Morin case was dealt with in the way it was, this all happening because of a police force so stretched to find the guilty party, it went to extremes to fabricate the evidence, such as withholding evidence, which had the power to prove Morin not guilty.
The case or R-v-Guy Paul Morin was an eye opening experience to research and write about. The way a person’s life can be damaged in such a way, by people in power and the way that the Canadian justice system is manipulated to fit in with the beliefs of those people in power is a very worrying thought. The way the Canadian justice system could revoke the acquittal that was given to him by a jury of his piers. But because the system was under immense pressure to bring a murder to justice, fabricating evidence and implanting ideas into the juror’s minds of Morin’s absence at the time of the murder. That Morin didn’t search enough when Christine went missing in the first place. Morin didn’t go to the funeral home and didn’t send his condolences to the Jessop family at the time of the funeral. There was too much evidential value put into the fibres found on both the clothes of Christine Jessop and in the vehicle of Guy Paul Morin. The fact that both the scientist conducting the search and the head of the department in which they worked knew that there had been contamination from one section of the lab to another, probably through the technician who vacuumed Guy Paul Morin’s Car for fibres.
The verdict given in the first trial of R-v-Guy Paul Morin, should have stood and the aquittal should never have been altered. The only reason the verdict had been changed was because the Canadian Justice System was between a rock and a hard place at the time of the trial and then they just needed to make a scape goat out of Morin to make it look like the system worked. The Morin enquiry has brought many new problems of the system to light and so many cases are being reviewed as a result of the report.
1. www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/morin/morinch6.pdf [12/02/05]
2. www.prisonactivist.org/pipermail/prisonact-list/1998-april/001675.html [12/02/05]
3. www.alpha.fdu.edu/koppl/police.htm [10/02/05]
4. www.criminaljustice.org [11/02/05]
5. www.nacdl.org [12/02/05]
6. www.lawforensic.org [11/02/05]
7. www.nacdl.org/champion/article/98aug01.htm [12/02/05]