Former medical student William Sandeson granted new murder trial

Click to play video: 'William Sandeson granted new murder trial' William Sandeson granted new murder trial
WATCH: Former medical student William Sandeson has been granted a new murder trial after it was found that a private detective for the defence gave critical information to the police. Graeme Benjamin has more – Jun 17, 2020

William Sandeson has been granted a new trial by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

In a joint ruling released Wednesday, the appeal court ruled that a mistrial should have been granted after it was found that a private detective for the defence gave critical information to the police.

Sandeson, a former medical student, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Taylor Samson, who is believed to have been killed inside Sandeson’s south-end Halifax apartment.

READ MORE: Decision reserved in convicted killer William Sandeson’s appeal

He is currently serving a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

Samson was last seen alive on video walking into Sandeson’s apartment in August 2015 to sell him nine kilograms of weed for $40,000. He was never seen leaving the apartment and his body has never been found.

Story continues below advertisement

Shortly after being found guilty in June 2017, Sandeson appealed his conviction.


Click to play video: 'Sandeson appeal decision now in hands of judges' Sandeson appeal decision now in hands of judges
Sandeson appeal decision now in hands of judges – Jan 21, 2020

There were four grounds for Sandeson’s appeal, including information received from a private detective, the decision to not grant a mistrial, the interrogation of Sandeson, and the overall conviction of first-degree murder.

The mistrial application

Sgt. Bruce Webb was hired as a private detective by Sandeson’s lawyers prior to the trial. However, during the trial it became known that Webb interviewed two key witnesses – Justin Blades and Pookiel McCabe – who lived in the apartment next to Sandeson’s.

It was during these interviews that Webb learned Blades and McCabe changed their stories significantly and admitted to seeing a slumped-over man in a pool of blood in Sandeson’s apartment.

Story continues below advertisement

Webb claimed he brought the information forward to police in fear that if he didn’t, he would be obstructing justice.

But it was during the trial that Sandeson’s lawyers learned that Webb brought this information forward to police.

They pushed for a mistrial but that request was denied by Justice Josh Arnold, who found the Crown had “breached its duty of disclosure” but concluded an adjournment and further cross-examination was the proper remedy.

“The trial judge erred in failing to consider whether the undisclosed evidence impacted the ability of the defence to bring process-oriented responses such as Charter challenges,” Justice David Farrar said in the decision.

“The trial judge restricted his analysis to considering whether the undisclosed evidence impacted the ability of Mr. Sandeson to respond to the merits of the Crown’s case.

READ MORE: William Sandeson should be granted a new trial, his lawyer argues

Farrar went on to say the police did not “passively receive” the information.

“The facts accepted by the trial judge, and supported by the record, reveal that the police were active participants in a common venture with the private investigator to obtain these statements,” he said.

“They successfully encouraged Webb to help them in their investigations and ensured their collaboration remained secret.”

Story continues below advertisement

Farrar said the Court of Appeal would not be addressing the other three grounds, which he said would likely be the subject of evidence and argument at the second trial.

“If I were to say anything with respect to them, it would inevitably compromise the ability of Crown counsel, defence counsel, and the next trial judge to consider those important issues afresh,” he said.

Nova Scotia’s Public Prosecution Service says it will be reviewing the decision in detail and will later determine if it can appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We can’t just appeal because we disagree with the decision. We have to look for … an error of law and a point of national interest,” senior Crown council Jennifer MacLellan said.

There currently is not a timeline on when the second trial will begin.

Sponsored content