R v Varley, 2017 Calgary Queen’s Bench – Hit & Run Statement Involuntary

Voir dire decision regarding voluntariness of accused’s statement to police. Accused was under investigation for hit and run causing death. Accused asserted more than 10 times during police interview that his lawyer had advised him not to answer questions and he did not wish to answer. Police officer then made comments undermining the lawyer’s genuineness, and suggested that a court might treat the accused more favourably if he confessed.  Accused subsequently gave a confession upon further questioning.

Held: Statement inadmissible.

“When I examine all … circumstances together in the context of the whole interview, the police had undermined the accused’s faith in the legal advice to stay silent by convincing him that his lawyer did not care; they presented an inducement of how a judge would likely react to a confession; and unable to deliver on Mr. Varley’s request to immediately see a judge, they continued to question him.” Police actions impacted accused’s ability to make a meaningful decision about whether to speak to them. Voluntariness not established.

S. Wojcik – Defence Counsel