The Western Star
Published on April 1, 2017
The Crown is appealing a stay of proceedings granted in the case of a former Roman Catholic priest from western Newfoundland charged with sex offences
Gary Gerard Hoskins, 58, is a convicted sex offender, having served three months in prison in 1997 for sexually assaulting a boy on the west coast in 1985.
He currently has two charges against him of sexual assault. The allegations involve one male victim and are alleged to have taken place in Stephenville sometime between January 1984 and December 1986.
The current charges, to which Hoskins has pleaded not guilty, had been coursing their way toward a trial in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland.
However, the defence filed an application to have a stay of proceedings granted because of unreasonable delays in the prosecution.
In February, Justice David Hurley rendered his decision in support of the defence’s application and granted the stay of proceedings. Hurley ruled the delays in the prosecution were a violation of Hoskins’ rights under Section 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The defence’s application is known as a Jordan application, referencing a Supreme Court of Canada decision in July 2016 that stipulates there should be reasonable timeframes for an accused person to be prosecuted. The decision states that matters in provincial court should be prosecuted within 18 months, while matters in the Supreme Court should take no longer than 30 months.
The most recent charges against Hoskins were filed more than four years ago.
When he delivered his decision orally Feb. 16, Hurley did not give all of his reasons for his judgment to grant the stay of proceedings. He indicated a written decision fully outlining his reasons would be available within a few days. However, as of Thursday, the written version was still not available to the lawyers involved, let alone to the public.
Among the delays, as previously reported by The Western Star, were the Crown’s efforts to gather documents to support an argument that would incorporate similar-fact evidence related to a prior conviction on similar charges in 1997.
Crown prosecutor Kari Ann Pike was not in court the day Hurley delivered his oral decision. She said she would like to read the full written decision before commenting on it.
In any event, it would not be Pike who would argue the appeal of Hurley’s decision. That will be done by Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland of the Special Prosecutions Office of the provincial Department of Justice and Public Safety.
Strickland filed a notice of appeal with the province’s Court of Appeal on March 15. It claims Hurley erred in finding Hoskins’ charter rights were infringed.
The notice states Hurley erred in determining Hoskins had not waived his charter rights during significant periods of delay in the prosecution. It also states Hurley failed to properly assess Hoskins’ matter as a transitional case that predates the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in R. v. Jordan.
The Crown is asking that the stay of proceedings be set aside and the matter remitted to the Supreme Court for continuation of the trial.