Romeo Phillion died November 2, 2015 at age 76
TORONTO - The longest-serving inmate in Canada to have a murder conviction quashed can sue those involved in his prosecution, Ontario's top court ruled.
Romeo Phillion and family shortly after he was released on bail after 31 years.
In its ruling, the Ontario Court of Appeal said it would be wrong to deny Romeo Phillion, who spent 31 years behind bars protesting his innocence, a chance at a civil lawsuit.
In essence, the court found, the issues Phillion wants to litigate are different from what the Appeal Court looked at when it overturned his conviction in 2009 and ordered a new trial on the grounds that police and Crown had failed to disclose a crucial piece of evidence.
"The stakes, purpose and process were entirely different from this civil action," the Appeal Court said.
"In any event, the findings made on the reference with respect to the conduct of the Crown and police did not consider any issues of negligence or a common law duty of care as alleged in the statement of claim."
Romeo Phillion, wrongly convicted in the 1967 killing of an Ottawa firefighter, is launching a $14-million lawsuit against the Ottawa Police Services Board, two police detectives and Ontario's attorney.
Phillion, who just turned 73, spent 31 years behind bars for the stabbing death of Leopold Roy.
Phillion confessed to the crime as part of a plea deal with police, but quickly recanted. He was convicted of murder on Nov. 7, 1972.
Romeo Phillion was not released on bail until 2003 pending a new trial. Crown prosecutors then dropped all charges in 2009 rather than launching a new trial.
In 2010, the Crown decided there was no longer any reasonable prospect of conviction.
Phillion's lawyers have yet to officially serve the statement of claim, but that is expected in the coming days.
Phillion is accusing investigators and prosecutors of malice. He has named retired detectives John McCombie and Stephen Nadori in his statement of claim, which alleges they suppressed evidence that would have proven Phillion was in Trenton the day of the crime, thus proving his innocence.
Phillion's Windsor, Ontario, lawyer believes the compensation claims will be settled quickly and quietly.