WINDSOR, ON, April 23 /CNW/ - Robert Baltovich, who in 1992 was wrongfully convicted for the murder of his girlfriend Elizabeth Bain, has commenced a $13 million lawsuit for damages he suffered as a result of his conviction. The defendants in the action are the Attorney General for Ontario, Brian Raybould, Steven Reesor, the Toronto Police Services Board, William E. Gatward and Michael G. Engel.
On March 31, 1992, Mr. Baltovich was convicted of the second degree murder of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Bain, and sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole for 17 years. The statement of claim asserts that many years after his conviction and during the preparation of his appeal, Mr. Baltovich first discovered that investigating police officers Raybould and Reesor and Crown prosecutors McMahon and Amenta had "substantial evidence of Baltovich's innocence in their files that they had failed to disclose to Baltovich or his defence counsel at his first trial."
On December 2, 2004, Mr. Baltovich's appeal from his conviction was allowed by the Ontario Court of Appeal and a new trial was ordered. On April 22, 2008, he was acquitted by a judge and jury in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice after Crown counsel announced on the first day of trial that the Crown would present no evidence.
Mr. Baltovich was wrongfully imprisoned for 8 years, 11 months and 22 days. He spent an additional 8 years, 5 months and 17 days on bail awaiting his first trial, followed by his appeal and then a re-trial.
In his lawsuit, Mr. Baltovich alleges that his arrest, charge, prosecution and wrongful conviction "were the result of the reckless, bad faith, negligent and intentional acts and omissions of the defendants." The statement of claim alleges that Raybould and Reesor "rushed to judgment" in their investigation by presuming that Baltovich had murdered Elizabeth and that McMahon and Amenta failed to properly perform their "non-discretionary, administrative function" as Crown prosecutors to disclose to Baltovich all evidence "including evidence that supported his innocence." The statement of claim also alleges that Baltovich's defence counsel at his first trial, Gatward and Engel, failed in their duty "to ensure they reviewed all evidence that could prove Baltovich's innocence especially because Baltovich insisted he was innocent."
Mr. Baltovich's lawyer, Harvey T. Strosberg, Q.C. of Sutts, Strosberg LLP said, "It is unfortunate that the justice system cannot retroactively restore liberty."
Sutts, Strosberg LLP is one of Canada's leading litigation law firms. In 2008, Mr. Strosberg settled the wrongful conviction claim of James Driskell for more than $4 million. Mr. Driskell was wrongfully convicted of murder in Manitoba and spent 13 years in prison.
SOURCE Sutts, Strosberg LLP Barristers & Solicitors
For further information: For further information: Harvey Strosberg, (519) 561-6228, Sutts, Strosberg LLP, or visit the website www.strosbergco.com