The appellant was charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault and breaking and entering with intent to commit an indictable offence. A group of at least five men, including the appellant, entered an apartment and began assaulting the occupants. Four occupants were stabbed, one of whom died of a single stab wound. The trial judge found that the members of the group, including the appellant, had a common purpose to assault the occupants of the apartment and to assist each other in that purpose, and she found the appellant guilty of three counts of aggravated assault as a party to those offences under s. 21(2) of the Criminal Code. Concerning the murder charge, the trial judge reasoned that an accused cannot be found liable as a joint principal under s. 21(1)(a) of the Code where the cause of death could have only been inflicted by one person. The trial judge acquitted the appellant of both second-degree murder and manslaughter, and also acquitted him of break and enter with intent.
The Crown appealed the manslaughter acquittal, and the appellant cross-appealed his convictions for aggravated assault. The Court of Appeal for Alberta found that the trial judge had erred in her application of the law on joint participation and allowed the Crown’s appeal, set aside the acquittal, and entered a conviction for manslaughter. The appellant’s cross-appeal was dismissed, and his convictions for aggravated assault were upheld.
Criminal law - Criminal law - Parties to offences - Joint participation - Whether the trial judge erred in her application of the law on joint principals in acquitting the appellant of manslaughter - Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, s. 21.
(Alberta) (Criminal) (As of Right)
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