By Jasminee Sahoye
A Jamaican-Canadian man convicted in the execution-style murder of Collin Moore at a fundraiser organized by the Guyanese community in Scarborough has had his murder conviction quashed and a new trial ordered.
In a 7-0 decision released earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that there was fresh evidence to support Leighton Hay’s claims of innocence.
Hay’s defence team of James Lockyer, Philip Campbell and Joanne McLean successfully argued that recent forensic testing on hairs found in his apartment point to his innocence.
The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) says the Supreme Court of Canada has ordered that Leighton Hay’s 2004 first degree murder conviction in Toronto be quashed and he must be sent back for a new trial.
“For 12 years Mr. Hay and AIDWYC have been fighting to clear his name and the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision is an important step towards establishing his innocence,” the AIDWYC says in a press release.
James Lockyer, AIDWYC’s lead counsel who argued the case in the Supreme Court of Canada for Mr. Hay said “It is a good day for Mr. Hay and a good day for justice in Canada. Mr. Hay is a vulnerable member of our society and is in many ways a ready victim for a wrongful conviction. AIDWYC adopted his case three years ago and we feel vindicated by this decision. We will be there for Mr. Hay at his new trial.”
In the early morning of July 6, 2002, two men shot and killed Collin Moore in a Toronto nightclub. The men also shot at Collin’s brother, Roger Moore, who escaped with a graze to his forehead.
The Crown alleged that Hay was one of the two gunmen and the gunman who was supposed to be Hay was described by an eyewitness as having 2-inch dreadlocks. However, when arrested hours after the shooting, Hay had a very short haircut causing the prosecution to allege that he must have cut his hair after the shooting, according to the release.
The prosecutor produced hairs found by police wrapped in a newspaper from the bathroom in the home where he was arrested as proof of the haircut.
At Mr. Hay’s appeal in the Supreme Court of Canada on April 23, 2013, AIDWYC presented new evidence that undermined the Crown’s eyewitness identification evidence of Mr. Hay. The new evidence establishes that the hairs seized from the home by the police came from Mr. Hay’s beard and were not from a haircut.
Erroneous eyewitness identification is a well-known cause of wrongful convictions in Canada and in other countries.
Meanwhile, AIDWYC will be hosting “BACK to the FUTURE” a day-long educational conference, gala dinner and an evening of festivities in recognition of its 20th Anniversary.
The keynote speaker is Jason Baldwin, one of three teenagers wrongly imprisoned for 18 years for the murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas.
Baldwin and his two co-accused were released in 2011. He joins a long list of wrongly convicted Canadians and Americans who will be in Toronto to participate in this milestone event.
Film Director, Atom Egoyan has dramatized for the screen the story of the West Memphis Three. The film previewed to critical acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) earlier this Fall.
Critics see this as an important film that is as compelling and disturbing as the truth itself. Egoyan is a master at telling tales about deeply misunderstood outsiders, their families and communities, and their darkest fantasies.