New book on convicted murderer Andrew Watson criticizes criminal justice system
Through a series of jailhouse letters penned by his longtime friend Andrew Watson, Scottish author James Lang takes aim at Canada’s court system.
Rough Justice in Ontario: The Trial of Andy Watson, puts focus on Watson’s lengthy court process, which began with his arrest in Peterborough in November 2014, and ended with his first-degree murder conviction in April.
Watson was arrested 10 days after his former girlfriend Lise Fredette, 74, was reported missing. He was charged with her murder. Her body has never been found.
He was 79 years old when he was sentenced to 25 years to life for Fredette’s murder.
Lang is a longtime friend of Watson’s. The two exchanged letters for years after Watson moved to Canada, and kept that correspondence up during Watson’s first-degree murder trial.
It’s a book, Lang said, which could not have been written without Watson.
“Andy kept sending me quite harrowing accounts of prison life,” Lang said in a YouTube video.
Lang is sharply critical of a court process which he said treated an incarcerated Watson the same as convicted felons during the months leading up to his trial. Watson was denied bail after he was unable to find someone to act as surety. The author also expressed concern with the delays surrounding Watson’s court case.
“I felt compelled to convey his experiences while at the same time making Canadians more aware of the inept judicial system that denied Andy, and many, many others, a fair and speedy trial,” Lang said.
But Stephane Leclerc, Fredette’s son, disagrees.
Leclerc sat through Watson’s trial and was present for many of his court appearances. He said Watson — who wasn’t represented by a lawyer for months before his trial — created many delays himself, often by complaining to judges of unfair treatment, or taking off his court-supplied hearing aids and refusing to co-operate during proceedings.
“I know for a fact that there’s a lot of misinformation that’s false information, and that he left some stuff out,” Leclerc said, referring to Watson’s letters to Lang.
Leclerc said he isn’t upset that the book was written. He said he’s read most of it and found Lang to be an articulate writer.
However, he said he believes Watson has fooled his friend the way he fooled Fredette and the rest of his family.
“I don’t think he’s a bad guy, I just think he was duped pretty much like the rest of us, to believe that Watson was somewhat decent,” Leclerc said.
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