Father will not face new trial in deaths of twin daughters in 2002

A Newfoundland man convicted of drowning his twin daughters after a so-called Mr. Big sting by the RCMP will not face a new trial after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled what he told police officers is inadmissible.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A Newfoundland man convicted of drowning his twin daughters after a so-called Mr. Big sting by the RCMP will not face a new trial after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled what he told police officers is inadmissible.

Donovan Molloy, director of public prosecutions, also confirmed in provincial Supreme Court on Tuesday in Gander, N.L., that with the withdrawal of the two first-degree murder charges, Nelson Hart will be released from prison.

“This brings the matter to a close,” said Judge David Peddle.

Hart’s conviction by a jury of first-degree murder in the 2002 drowning deaths of his three-year-old twin daughters was initially overturned on appeal in 2012.

The Supreme Court of Canada upheld that decision last week and ruled that a confession Hart gave to police posing as mobsters cannot be used against him.

Hart was not in court on Tuesday, but his ex wife Jennifer Hicks did attend the hearing and showed no emotion as the decision to free her former husband was confirmed. She declined to speak outside court.

Lawyers for Hart say there is no evidence of a crime without the confession given during an elaborate police sting.

The high court cast doubt on the reliability of Mr. Big stings and said the operation may have violated Hart’s Charter rights.

Hart, now 45, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison for the 2002 drowning deaths of his daughters at Gander Lake.

Hart has maintained that the deaths of his daughters, Karen and Krista, were accidental but changed his story about what happened.

He initially told detectives that Krista fell in the water on Aug. 4, 2002, at a recreation area called Little Harbour. He said he didn’t jump in to help because he couldn’t swim.

His trial heard that Hart had a cellphone but left his other daughter behind as he drove about 11 kilometres to his home, passing a hospital, to get his wife who also couldn’t swim.

Karen was dead and Krista was floating unconscious on the water by the time police arrived. She was declared brain dead in hospital and removed from a ventilator.

Hart later told police that he’d had an epileptic seizure and couldn’t remember how his girls got into the lake. He said he didn’t mention it earlier for fear he’d lose his driver’s licence.

The case stalled until the RCMP launched the Mr. Big sting in February 2005.

They spent about $413,000 over four months while officers posing as gangsters recruited Hart to join their crime network. He was wined and dined across the country as he met other fake mobsters at restaurants, casinos and strip clubs, moving what he thought was stolen goods.

Lawyers for Hart at his appeal stressed that he had a Grade 5 education, was on social assistance and was easily led.

They argued that he was especially vulnerable to the Mr. Big tactic used by police across Canada to extract confessions of prior crimes.

In a secretly videotaped exchange in June 2005, an officer posing as a gang leader asked Hart about the deaths of his daughters in a concocted test of Hart’s loyalty.

Hart began to talk about his seizure but was told not to lie.

He then described how he could not accept that social workers planned to give his brother custody of his children. Hart is shown on another tape re-enacting on a Gander Lake wharf how he used his shoulder to shove the girls off.

Hart’s defence lawyer argued that his client’s confession was unreliable. He said Hart needed money, was paid more than $15,000 during the Mr. Big operation and was intimidated.

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

Get your guilty pleasures: Westerner Days food

Traditional sugary treats were served up by the plate, bowl and bucket… Continue reading

Centrefest brings feats of daring to Red Deer’s downtown

Fundraising was a tough slog, but it came together in the end

Count shows slight decrease in Red Deer’s homeless

In two years, the number of homeless in Red Deer has decreased… Continue reading

Redoing hip surgeries are costly, says new study

Redoing hip and knee replacements costs Canada’s health system $130 million a… Continue reading

WATCH: Cirque ZUMA ZUMA puts on a show at Westerner Days

ZUMA ZUMA performs three times a day during Westerner Days

Jones’ punt return TD rallies Riders to road victory over Ticats

Roughriders 31 Tiger-Cats 20 HAMILTON — Brandon Bridge kept Dave Watford on… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer’s Iron Buffalo rocks Westerner Days

Iron Buffalo opened for Helix and Lee Aaron Thursday at the ENMAX Centrium

Zuckerberg’s Holocaust comment puts Facebook on the spot

NEW YORK — Denying the Holocaust happened is probably OK on Facebook.… Continue reading

Brazilian police arrest ‘Dr. Bumbum’ after patient dies

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police have arrested celebrated plastic surgeon Denis… Continue reading

Canadian marijuana company Tilray has first US pot IPO

SEATTLE — A Canadian company is the first marijuana business to complete… Continue reading

Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem… Continue reading

Soy “milk” makers may need to find alternative description

NEW YORK — Soy and almond drinks that bill themselves as “milk”… Continue reading

Calgary woman convicted in son’s strep death granted day parole

CALGARY — A woman whose son died after she failed to take… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month