Friday, July 2, 2010
Man acquitted in robbery when Judge concludes there was "reasonable doubt"
A Winnipeg man has been acquitted of a violent robbery in the North End after a judge said he might have been encouraged to lie about his involvement in the incident.
Anthony Ross-Cameron, 20, stood trial earlier this month, charged with aggravated assault and robbery.
Ross-Cameron was among three men and one woman arrested after a man was beaten outside his Flora Avenue home on May 29, 2008 and robbed of $20.
He provided a police statement implicating himself in the attack only after a co-accused, Waylon Prince, identified him as one of the attackers, said Justice Robert Dewar.
“The defence argues Prince tried to minimize his involvement and the accused was a convenient target to assist him to do so,” Dewar said Wednesday. “When given the opportunity to do so by police, Prince seized upon the name of the accused.”
In a subsequent interview with Ross-Cameron, police told him Prince would “downplay” his involvement and cast greater blame on his co-accused, Dewar said.
“Although I don’t criticize this form of interrogation, it may encourage a response from the accused which implicates that person in a crime which he may not have committed,” Dewar said. “He is now being invited to tailor the truth in such a manner to defend a competing story from a co-accused. It is not a stretch for an accused to think that limited involvement will sound more palatable to police than no involvement at all.”
Prince pleaded guilty in April 2009 to aggravated assault and was sentenced to the equivalent of 40 months in custody.
At trial, Ross-Cameron recanted his police statement and claimed he was at home, in compliance with a court-ordered curfew, when the victim was attacked. Ross-Cameron testified he told police “what they wanted to hear” so they would let him go home.
Dewar rejected that testimony.
“It makes no sense that the accused would volunteer in a police investigation that he was at the scene of a crime if he was not,” Dewar said. “The rational way to secure early release was to tell police where he was and who he was with.”
Dewar had a few parting words for Ross-Cameron, who remains in custody on other matters.
“You should choose your friends more carefully,” he said.