A woman who accused her stepfather of sexually assaulting her
decades ago plans to file a complaint with the Canadian Judicial
Council this week over controversial comments made by the B.C.
Supreme Court judge presiding over her case.
The woman, whose identity is shielded by a publication ban, says
she is also distraught at the conduct of Crown prosecutor Katie
Bouchard, who stayed four charges against her stepfather on
Even before the 56-year-old woman took the stand in Kamloops
Supreme Court to begin her testimony on March 20, Justice Peter
Leask asked Bouchard to cut some of her witnesses to speed up
“Full disclosure, I live in Vancouver,” Leask said, according
This Week reporter
Tim Petruk. “Kamloops is a wonderful place, but I like
sleeping in my own bed.”
Shortly after the comments, the woman took the stand as the
Crown’s first witness against her stepfather, who was charged
with four counts of sexually assaulting her in the 1970s when
she was a teen in Adams Lake.
She said she felt Bouchard’s tone with her was harsh and she
“slipped up” on one of her answers.
“I felt like I was being cross-examined. That’s what I felt
like. It was just bang, bang, bang, bang, rush, rush, rush.”
She said she wasn’t prepared for some of the things the Crown
asked, including about her son who committed suicide last year.
“I couldn’t believe she was bringing that up. I just went,
‘Could you please stop.’ So the judge called a recess,” the
woman said, crying.
The trial was adjourned until the following day.
Bouchard told her to read over her evidence from the 2016
preliminary hearing as well as her statements to police, she
The woman only learned about Leask’s comments when she read
Petruk’s reporting early the next day.
“I had no idea this had happened. It just felt like a punch in
the stomach,” she said.
She returned to the courthouse, expecting to continue her
Instead, Bouchard told her the charges were being stayed because
she no longer felt there was enough evidence.
The woman said the RCMP and the Crown who approved the charges
thought there was sufficient evidence when she came forward in
2014. And a provincial court judge also determined there was
enough evidence to go to trial after the preliminary hearing.
She said she has been rocked by both the Crown’s decision and
Leask’s insensitive comments in court.
Crown spokesman Dan McLaughlin reiterated Monday that Leask’s
comments had no bearing on the decision to drop the charges.
“The decision to stay the charges in this case was made after a
full and careful review of the evidence available to the
prosecutor with conduct of the file,” he said in a statement.
“After reviewing this information and conferring with senior
counsel … the prosecutor concluded the charge assessment
standard was no longer met. In these circumstances, a stay of
proceedings is the appropriate course of action.”
The woman said she should have been allowed to complete her
“They were looking for an out just to get it over with,” she
UBC law professor Benjamin Perrin has already filed a complaint
about Leask’s comments, based on Petruk’s report of what was
said in court.
Perrin said Monday that even if Leask was joking, his comments
are inappropriate in any trial, let alone one about sexual
“It was very disturbing to me, particularly in the context that
95 per cent of sexual assault cases never get reported to
police, and one of the reasons victims give is that they don’t
trust the justice system,” Perrin said.
Comments like Leask’s “only serve to reinforce that message,” he
In 2007, Leask was censured by the judicial council for swearing
during the Crown’s closing arguments in a drug case involving a
Hells Angel he later acquitted.
HERE ARE SOME BACKGROUND STORIES ON THE 2007 COMMENTS:
Cocaine found in his locker but Hells Angel walks free: Judge
says accused would be ‘out of his f. . .in’ mind’ to store drugs
in his locker
Thu Mar 15 2007
Page: A1 / FRONT
Byline: Kim Bolan
Source: Vancouver Sun
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Peter
a member of the Hells Angels on a cocaine trafficking charge
Wednesday, a day after swearing at the Crown prosecutor during
his closing arguments.
Leask found Glen Jonathan Hehn not guilty, saying he found Hehn,
a full-patch member of the elite Nomads chapter of the Angels,
“to be a good witness.”
“His answers were straightforward and clear,” Leask said in his
On Tuesday, as federal prosecutor Ernie Froess made his closing
submissions in the case, Leask used profanity four times,
according to a transcript obtained by The Vancouver Sun.
When Froess argued that the locker where a large volume of
cocaine was located was rented by Hehn, Leask said:
“But to be really clear, he’d have had to have been out of his
f. . .in’ mind to store it in his own locker, all right? I mean,
that’s for sure he wouldn’t do that. Let’s not spend any time on
Chief Justice Donald Brenner said later Wednesday that he will
review the comments made by Leask, but could not say more
without knowing the context.
“I will first of all try to find out what occurred,” Brenner
“I haven’t seen the transcript and I don’t know the context and
I am not in a position to comment one way or the other, not
having seen it, or heard it or read it.”
Attorney-General Wally Oppal had reviewed the transcript and
said later that Leask “has had an excellent reputation.”
“Most judges would not express themselves that way, but I am not
going to second-guess Peter
Leask,” Oppal said.
Hehn was arrested in July 2003 when police stopped a truck he
was riding in with Ewan Lilford, a Coquitlam man associated with
the motorcycle club. Investigators from the Organized Crime
Agency of B.C. said that minutes earlier they saw the men
loading boxes into the truck from a storage unit, rented by
Hehn, at 5555, 192nd St. in Cloverdale.
One-kilo cocaine bricks worth a total of $1.5 million were
seized from the vehicle and at the storage locker.
Hehn testified during the six-day trial that he rarely used the
locker, but allowed friends, including Lilford, to have access
He claimed that on the morning in question, Lilford had used his
own key to access the facility, even though police did not find
a key on Lilford when they searched his truck a short time
Leask said he gave “anxious consideration” to the fact that no
key was found, but decided that the search of the truck may not
have been thorough enough.
“I am not prepared to reject Mr. Hehn’s evidence,” Leask said.
Before he acquitted the long-time biker, Leask raised the issue
of a request by media outlets to get access to transcripts of
the closing arguments. He agreed to release the documents, after
defence lawyer Neil Cobb said he had no objections.
After Leask rejected Froess’ position that Hehn stored the
cocaine in his own locker, Froess argued that Lilford would have
been a fool to secretly use the locker of a Hells Angel.
“If Mr. Hehn’s a Hells Angel and Mr. Lilford stored cocaine in
his locker without his knowledge, Mr. Lilford would know that
there would be serious repercussions if Hehn discovered that
cocaine, realized the jeopardy to which Mr. Lilford was exposing
him, legal and otherwise,” Froess said.
Leask, who has been a judge since November 2005, described what
might have been going through Lilford’s mind, though Lilford did
“On the one hand, he can minimize his risk of detection and
apprehension by just aborting the whole f—ing thing, right? And
saying, I thought I was going to do these things, but I’m not
going to do them, it’s just this morning is not working out for
me, or he can try and make the best of things,” Leask said.
He also swore twice more during the morning arguments, while a
group of school children, touring the courts for educational
purposes, sat in the public gallery.
Neither Cobb, nor Froess, would comment on the issue of
profanity when asked about it Wednesday.
Bob Prior, regional director of the Public Prosecution Service
of Canada, said the Crown has 30 days to decide whether to
appeal the acquittal. No complaint has yet been filed about the
Brenner said if someone has a formal complaint about a judge,
they must contact the Canadian Judicial Council in Ottawa.
“That is the body that is charged with receiving and
investigating complaints against federally-appointed judges,” he
RCMP Insp. Gary Shinkaruk, who heads the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang
Unit, said police did their job by bringing the evidence to
court in the Hehn case.
“Certainly I am disappointed with the verdict,” Shinkaruk said.
“But we respect the decision of the Supreme Court of British
Shinkaruk said the other accused, Lilford, pleaded guilty to
possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and is
being flown to the U.S. today to enter a second guilty plea in a
drug conspiracy case for which he was charged in Indiana in
Lilford has reached a plea agreement of a 16-year jail sentence
for both the Canadian and the U.S. charges and will be able to
serve his time in Canada.
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Judge issues apology for swearing in court: Public controversy
over use of f-word led to special court sitting Friday
Sat Mar 17 2007
Byline: Kim Bolan
Source: Vancouver Sun
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Peter
Leask gave a
heartfelt apology Friday for profanity he used earlier in the
week during the Crown’s closing arguments in a drug trafficking
Courtroom 55 was packed for the special sitting arranged by
Chief Justice Donald Brenner at Leask’s request over the public
controversy that erupted over the swearing incident Tuesday
morning, which took place while a school group was in the public
“I know you are all aware of the circumstances surrounding my
completely improper use of language during closing submissions
in Regina v. Hehn,” Leask began, reading his statement slowly
“Today, I wish to apologize to the public, to any members of the
public who were in court on Tuesday, including especially the
schoolchildren, the lawyers of the province, court staff,
judicial administrative staff, and all members of this court,
past and present, as well as members of other courts of this
province. The language I used had no place in court. I was wrong
in using this language. I hereby wish to make an unreserved
apology to all those I have enumerated and acknowledge that my
behaviour was inexcusable.”
Leask, a prominent defence lawyer until he was appointed to the
B.C. Supreme Court in November 2005, sounded emotional at points
during his statement.
“In the circumstances, I can only humbly request that members of
the public, the court and judicial staff, the bar and my past
and present judicial colleagues will accept my unreserved
apology in the spirit in which it is offered,” he said. “To the
extent that my conduct has damaged the reputation of the court,
it pains me greatly and I am particularly anxious that my
colleagues recognize my contrition.”
He also said he did not want his conduct to reflect poorly on
the “judiciary as a whole or my arduously working colleagues. I
deeply regret my actions. They will not be repeated,” he said.
Defence lawyers, prosecutors, reporters and sheriffs joined
members of the public for the unusual event. The consensus
afterwards was that Leask did the right thing to end the
controversy by apologizing.
Leask acquitted Glen Jonathan Hehn, a member of the Hells
Angels, Wednesday on a cocaine trafficking charge, saying he
accepted Hehn’s testimony that he was unaware a friend had been
using Hehn’s storage locker to stash 52 kilograms of cocaine.
A day earlier, when federal prosecutor Ernie Froess was making
his final submissions, Leask used “f—ing” twice, as well as
Froess told reporters that he had never asked for an apology.
“His comments were obviously heartfelt and very genuine and as
far as I’m concerned that puts this issue to rest,” Froess said.
“His comments at the time didn’t give me any particular concern.
I had no concerns that the Crown was not being afforded a fair
hearing. To the contrary, I thought the Crown received a very
Lawyer Neil Cobb, who was representing Hehn, lashed out at The
Vancouver Sun for its coverage of the issue.
“I felt terrible listening to him say that in light of all his
years of tireless public service,” Cobb said. “He didn’t deserve
this maelstrom and we are bordering on offended the fact that
Lawyer Terry La Liberte, who described Leask as a mentor to him,
said the judge does not use profanity outside of court.
“His comments today were a full and complete apology,” La
Liberte said, noting Leask’s “absolutely impeccable reputation.
That’s the end of it.”
Ten-year-old Adam Veitch came to court with his dad Jason after
learning of the special event through the media.
“It was good that he apologized for what he said because that
was kind of inappropriate what he said, especially because there
was students there,” Adam said, adding the lesson he learned
about swearing was that “you shouldn’t do it, especially when
there’s a lot of people there because it can get back to you in
Jason Veitch said he wanted his son to learn a “lesson about
being a responsible citizen and a good member of society to
listen about how people apologize.”