SYDNEY — The lengthy, slow-moving legal saga involving Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh came to an abrupt end Monday, as the country’s highest court rejected the provincial Crown’s appeal of the quashing of sexual abuse convictions against him without his lawyers even having to present arguments.
The Supreme Court of Canada issued a oral decision following arguments made by Mark Scott, representing the provincial Crown.
“What happened was the justices didn’t buy it at all, and in the end they were actually laughing,” the initial complainant, who can only be identified as D.R.S., told the Cape Breton Post via a cellphone interview from Ottawa, where he attended the court proceeding.
The allegations against MacIntosh date back to the 1970s in the Strait of Canso area where MacIntosh, now 69, operated businesses. The allegations were made by a number of male youths. The first complainant went to police in 1995,a year after MacIntosh had moved to India.
The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal threw out 17 sex offence convictions against MacIntosh in late 2011, finding that the 14-year delay between the original allegations and his subsequent trial was too long. An extradition request was not made until 2006 and MacIntosh was returned to Canada in 2007. After an arrest warrant was issued in 1997, MacIntosh travelled to Canada several times and an effort to revoke his passport was abandoned by the federal Crown.
“It was determined and even officially admitted by the Crown that MacIntosh came in and out of the country during this time,” D.R.S. said. “He came through with his passport and he wasn’t arrested. He was given his passport and he was given free rein to walk freely.”
The federal court had allowed the federal Crown time to submit documents confirming the filing of criminal charges and the issuing of a Canada-wide arrest warrant against MacIntosh after he applied to overturn the decision to revoke his passport. The Crown attorney handling the matter, Anne Turley, never submitted those documents and instead on April 20, 1998, a notice of discontinuance was jointly filed by Turley and MacIntosh’s lawyers.
For years, D.R.S. has been critical of the Crown’s handling of the case, particularly the effort to revoke MacIntosh’s passport, which would have forced him back to Canada to face the criminal charges, without requiring extradition.