Court of Appeal of Quebec

Accurso c. R.

July 12, 2018

500-10-006789-182; 500-10-006790-180


Application for leave to appeal on grounds involving questions of law and of fact. Application for leave to appeal the sentence. Deferred to the panel of the Court that will hear the appeal. Application for release. Granted.

The applicant’s trial, which was held before a judge and a jury, was declared a mistrial on November 17, 2017, after a jury member informed the judge that he might have been contaminated by statements made by a third person related to the case. The trial resumed on May 18, 2018, and ended on June 25, 2018, when the jury convicted the applicant on the following five charges: conspiracy to commit municipal corruption and breach of trust; conspiracy to commit fraud; fraud over $5,000; commission of municipal corruption; and breach of trust.

The applicant must establish that he meets the three conditions set out in s. 679(3) of the Criminal Code (R.S.C. (1985), c. C-46) to be released pending the appeal. First, the grounds of appeal are arguable, except the ground related to the mistrial in November 2017 and its effect on the convictions pronounced in June 2018. This observation in and of itself, however, is not enough to characterize the appeal as frivolous.

As for the second test, the Court finds that the applicant would surrender himself into custody in accordance with the terms of the order if released. He is 66 years old, has a fixed address, and has remained at liberty throughout all the trial proceedings, which began in 2013, even after he was convicted, and according to the evidence, never breached any of his obligations.

Last, the public interest test has two parts. One addresses the protection or safety of the public and the other addresses the confidence of the public in the administration of justice. This last part presupposes balancing two competing interests: the enforceability of judgments and their reviewability. This case does not reveal any residual concerns about public safety. However, the crimes are definitely serious and undermine public confidence in public institutions. Yet the seriousness of the offence does not mean that the applicant must necessarily be incarcerated while awaiting the outcome of the appeal. No offence, even the most serious, is excluded. Here, given the delays inherent in the appeal, the applicant could have served a significant portion of his sentence while waiting for the Court’s decision. Therefore, after weighing all the factors and the facts, a reasonable member of the public would understand that an appeal process forms an integral part of our country’s justice system and that, in this case, this principle should prevail over that of the enforceability of judgments. As a result, the applicant must be released.

*Summary by SOQUIJ

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