Hamilton police are fighting a $57.6M malicious prosecution suit filled by a city man who says he was wrongfully imprisoned for nine years for the murder of Tapeleytown school teacher Beverley Ann Perrin.
Photo: Diana Nethercott, Special to The Spectator
Christopher Gordon McCullough was 22 when he was branded a murderer and a sex offender in 1991 and sentenced to life in prison. He had never been in prison before and soon learned that because he had been convicted of raping and killing Perrin, a 55 year-old mother of four, he was among the lowest of the low in the convict hierarchy and had to watch his back 24 hours a day.
The murder charge was withdrawn by the Crown in June 2000, six months after the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the conviction and granted McCullough a new trial.
The following December, McCullough filed a civil suit, alleging false imprisonment, malicious procecution, negligence and infringment of his constitutional rights. Defendents named in the suit include past chiefs of police Colin Miller and Robert Middaugh and current chief Ken Robertson. It also names four detectives; retired Staff Sergeant Gary Clue, Staff Sergeant Steven Hrab, and sergeants Mike Hammer and Bruce Graham.
In court yesterday, police lawyer Robert Rogers argued the statement of claim filed by McCullough lawyers was too vague and full of sweeping allegations that could not be pinned down. Rogers asked Superior Court Justice David Crane to dismiss the bulk of the claim arguing the causes of the actionhad been improperly presented.
The motion was brought by the police on the eve of examinations for discovery in the case and resulted in an indefinite postponment of the procedings. Discoveries are like a preliminary hearing that give both sides an opportunity to assess the strength of their respective cases based on the evidence given by witnesses
The plaintiffs cite a long list of allegations that have yet to be proved in a court of law.
Perrin was a popular teacher of grades 1 and 2 at Tapeleytown school in Stoney Creek. She is believed to have been abducted from an A&P parking lot on Centennial Parkway and Barton Street East on the evening of Feb. 13, 1989. Her partily clad body was found two days later in a field off Tapeleytown road. Fifteen months later, on May 24 1990, McCullough was arrested and charged with the teachers first-degree murder.
Most of the wrongfully convicted are walking wounded of a dirty, greedy and unfair war on the public -- others are casualties. The war is conducted by those within the system who have a different agenda from the stated claims of the system. For one reason or another, police conduct improper investigations, prosecutors take tainted evidence to court and judges fail to protect the rights of the accused. The reasons do not really matter; the outcome is always malicious. -- Sheila Steele