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CRIMINAL CODE OFFENCES - Offences against the administration of law and justice - Misleading justice - Perjury

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 8:52 AM  

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Appeal by the accused from conviction of perjury. The appellant gave evidence at a trial on assault-related charges. The Crown alleged that the appellant falsely testified to the effect that he did not associate a nickname with a particular person. The trial judge in the appellant’s trial found that the appellant stepped over the line from evasiveness into falsehood. On appeal, the appellant argued that even if he knew at the time of the trial at which he gave testimony that the particular person was associated with the nickname, the appellant’s evidence was not false and could not be the subject of a perjury conviction due to an absence of any direct explicit falsehood in the appellant’s testimony. The appellant argued that a witness’ failure to volunteer all information he or she might know in response to a broad non-specific question could not be equated with giving false testimony for the purposes of a perjury charge.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The trial judge appreciated that the Crown could not point to any express false answer in support of the perjury allegation and considered the appellant’s evidence as a whole in the context of the focus of the trial in which the appellant was testifying. The appellant deliberately refrained from identifying the particular person as a person associated with the nickname, despite knowing that the questions were directed at soliciting that information from him. He was not only evasive, the answers he gave were deliberately misleading. The trial judge’s finding that the appellant gave false evidence was open to her on the evidence. The finding that the appellant gave false evidence at the trial was all but determinative of his guilt. The Crown established the requisite elements of the offence of perjury.

R. v. Pammett, [2017] O.J. No. 4304, Ontario Court of Appeal, D.H. Doherty, H.S. LaForme and P.S. Rouleau JJ.A., August 17, 2017. Digest No. TLD-Sept112017006