High court orders new trial in death of woman found in tub

OTTAWA — An Ontario truck driver should be retried for manslaughter, but not murder, in the case of a woman who bled to death in a motel room’s bathroom, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday.

In a 4-3 decision Friday, the high court said evidence about Cindy Gladue’s sexual history was mishandled at a trial in Edmonton that ended in Bradley Barton’s acquittal on a first-degree murder charge.

Barton acknowledged that he hired Gladue for sex in 2011 and said the severe injury to her vaginal wall that caused her death was an accident during rough but consensual activity.

The Crown argued that Barton intentionally wounded Gladue and was guilty of first-degree murder or, at the very least, manslaughter, because the 36-year-old Métis woman had not consented.

Barton was found not guilty by a jury that repeatedly heard references to Gladue as a “prostitute” and a “native.” The Alberta Court of Appeal set aside the acquittal and ordered a new first-degree murder trial.

A majority of the Supreme Court said Barton’s new trial should be restricted to manslaughter, because procedural errors at the trial did not taint the jury’s finding. The minority said he should be retried with both manslaughter and murder as possible verdicts.

Writing on behalf of the majority, Justice Michael Moldaver said the criminal justice system did not deliver on its promise to provide Gladue with the law’s full protection and “as a result, it let her down — indeed, it let us all down.”

“Her life mattered. She was valued. She was important. She was loved. Her status as an Indigenous woman who performed sex work did not change any of that in the slightest.”

The 2015 trial sparked widespread public concern about how alleged victims of sexual assault, particularly Indigenous women, are portrayed in a courtroom.

“They’re often perceived almost like they’re the criminal and that they have to defend themselves, and Cindy, in her death, couldn’t defend herself,” said Melanie Omeniho, president of Women of the Métis Nation, who was at the Supreme Court for the decision.

It’s not uncommon for cases involving the deaths of Indigenous women to go through multiple appeals and retrials, Omeniho said, as difficult as that is for victims’ families.

Also there for the ruling was Qajaq Robinson, a commissioner for the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women, which is due to report early next month.

“It’s a step forward that the court has recognized that in cases of sexual assaults involving Indigenous women and girls, that there’s an obligation on courts, on judges, to be gatekeepers — to ensure that bias, prejudice, racism and sexism do not form part of the evidence,” she said.

Julie Kaye, a research adviser with the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, said the ruling needed to go further.

“The level of dehumanization that was experienced and the level of humiliation that Indigenous women throughout the country felt as a result of the way the court treated Cindy Gladue,” she said in an interview from Saskatoon. “I don’t think the decision accounts for that in the way that it needed to.”

 

File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Protesters show their support for Cindy Gladue attend a rally along Edmonton’s city streets.

Just Posted

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

OTTAWA — The federal government is widely expected to green light the… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports manufacturing sales fell 0.6 per cent in April

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 0.6 per cent to… Continue reading

China suspends imports from Canadian pork company

BEIJING — China will halt imports from a Canadian company after food… Continue reading

New tool launched to shine light on ethnic media coverage of election issues

OTTAWA — A new tool launched Tuesday could help voters learn what… Continue reading

Manslaughter trial hears recording of accused praying for forgiveness

CALGARY — A trial for a man charged in the death of… Continue reading

Pro-pipelines rally draws crowd to City Hall

Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Canada missing out on billions in revenue

The corporate winners and losers from the Toronto Raptors’ historic win

We The North mania spread across Canada as the Toronto Raptors created… Continue reading

Efforts continue to raise profile of New Brunswick sprint champion from 1900s

HALIFAX — A New Brunswick sprinter who achieved world-class success in the… Continue reading

Campaign to eradicate rodents puts other animals at risk

The bird was a female cardinal. It was on the ground and… Continue reading

Raptors announcer credited with calming massive crowd after shooting

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors’ seasoned play-by-play announcer is winning widespread praise… Continue reading

Opinion: Throwing cold water on fee for calling firefighters

There’s never any upside to adversity. Whether it’s the loss of a… Continue reading

‘This is our story:’ Winnipeg General Strike commemorated on screen, stage

WINNIPEG — A moment in history that changed Canada forever is headed… Continue reading

Manslaughter trial hears recording of accused praying for forgiveness

CALGARY — A trial for a man charged in the death of… Continue reading

UN high commissioner urges redress as Canada responds to MMIWG inquiry

OTTAWA — Canada’s response to the conclusions of the inquiry into missing… Continue reading

Most Read