November 26, 2018
Thibault, Schrager, Hogue
Appeal from a conviction. Dismissed.
The appellant appeals from a judgment of the Court of Quebec, Youth Division, convicting him of two terrorism-related offences, that is, committing robbery for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a terrorist group, and attempting to leave Canada to participate in activity of terrorist group.
It is clear from a reading of the appellant’s first statement to police officers when he was arrested on the charge of robbery that he was not compelled to answer questions, but answered when he wanted to do so. An accused’s exercise of the right to silence does not prevent a police officer from continuing to ask questions, and the number of times the accused refuses to answer does not determine the voluntariness of his statement. On the other hand, the appellant was under arrest and could not leave the interrogation room to return to his cell, or avoid questioning on the terrorism-related offences of which he was suspected.
The appellant’s second statement, however, made the same evening as an attack by an individual on behalf of the Islamic State (IS) during which a member of the Canadian military was killed and another injured, must be found inadmissible. It was not free and voluntary due to the interrogating officer’s promises and misleading remarks. In the youth criminal justice context, the notion of “promise” must be assessed flexibly to protect the young offender’s vulnerability. In this case, there is no doubt that the appellant wished to remain silent. He was encouraged to answer the questions and falsely led to believe that the officers wanted to help him and that it would benefit him. The exclusion of that statement has no impact on the guilty verdicts, however, because the evidence adduced at trial otherwise proved the elements it contained.
The trial judge did not convict the appellant because he shares the radical ideology of a terrorist group. Rather, she based the decision on the appellant’s actions. The evidence established that he wanted to commit robbery to get money and go to Syria to fight with a terrorist group, thereby putting into practice IS’s philosophy that property taken from those that fight Islam are the spoils of war. Even though the appellant claims that no words, actions, or clothing connected him to IS when he committed the robbery, the trial judge was justified in concluding, from the evidence as a whole, that the offence was of interest to a terrorist group and that the appellant was associated with, connected to, or supported a terrorist group, within the meaning of s. 83.2 of the Criminal Code (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46), although he was not a member of it.
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