Statement from the Crown regarding Turpin matter01 April 2021
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Public Prosecution Services at the Office of the Attorney General:
In 2016, James Paul Turpin was convicted by a Fredericton jury of committing second degree murder upon Kennedy Corrigan, a two-year old toddler who suffered a catastrophic brain injury while in Mr. Turpin’s care. Following his 2016 conviction, in 2019, Mr. Turpin successfully appealed his conviction to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal. A five-member panel of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal thoroughly reviewed the grounds of appeal brought by Mr. Turpin and concluded that the second-degree murder conviction could not stand. As a result, the Court of Appeal ordered that Mr. Turpin receive a new trial on the charge of manslaughter.
Where any prosecution is being considered by the Attorney General of New Brunswick, the Office of the Attorney General has a fundamental underlying obligation to review the proposed prosecution file and the evidence contained therein to determine whether there exists a reasonable prospect of conviction. This review process is central to the Crown Prosecutor’s role as a quasi-Minister of Justice. This process acts as a safeguard to ensure that prosecutions are screened fairly to ensure that a reasonable prospect of conviction exists before a criminal charge is formally laid in court. The obligation to review and assess the merits of a prosecution, however, does not come to a full stop once a proposed prosecution has been assessed preliminarily and a charge has been laid. Rather, the obligation on Crown prosecutors to assess the reasonable prospect of conviction threshold is a continuing obligation which remains present until the completion of a criminal prosecution. In other words, the initial decision to prosecute must continuously be reconsidered as a prosecution unfolds and as evidence is being tested throughout the trial process.
Following the New Brunswick Court of Appeal’s decision to grant Mr. Turpin a new trial in 2019, the Crown carefully reviewed the evidence to be tendered at the new trial and concluded that there remained a reasonable prospect of conviction on the charge of manslaughter. On March 8, 2021, Mr. Turpin’s retrial began before a Justice of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench, sitting without a jury. The Crown completed the calling of its evidence on March 29.
As it is obligated to do, the Crown methodically reviewed the evidence that had been tendered and tested before Justice Terrence Morrison. Following that fulsome review, the Crown determined that the evidence which unfolded throughout the trial process was such that a reasonable prospect of conviction no longer existed. As a result, the difficult yet necessary decision was made to stay the prosecution against Mr. Turpin. This decision was not made lightly nor was it made hastily. The decision followed a meticulous review of the evidence which unfolded throughout the trial process and was weighed and balanced in accordance with the Crown’s fundamental legal obligation to continually assess whether a reasonable prospect of conviction exists.
It must be noted that, in making this decision, at no time did the Crown lose sight of the weight and importance of this decision. However, it is a cornerstone of the Canadian criminal justice system that the Crown act fairly and impartially based on its assessment of the evidence.
The death of two-year old Kennedy Corrigan remains a tragic event and the Office of the Attorney General continues to offer its ongoing thoughts and sympathies to the many who loved Kennedy dearly.01-04-21