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The lawyers for the two men innocent after 40 years denounce the failures of the investigation

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Robert Mailman and Walter Gillespie spent more than 18 years in prison. On Thursday, they were exonerated 40 years after their murder convictions.

The Canadian Press

The miscarriage of justice suffered by two New Brunswick men is a reflection of everything that is wrong with the Canadian justice system, say the lawyers who proved their innocence.

Lawyers for the Innocence Canada organization argued, in a written statement presented in court Thursday, that the narrow-mindedness of the police, the non-disclosure of important evidence, the false Statements from two key Crown witnesses and disregard for the defendants' alibi led to the guilty verdicts against Robert Mailman and Walter Gillespie in 1984.

Robert Mailman and Walter Gillespie, now aged 76 and 80, were jailed for 18 and 21 years respectively. On Thursday, Tracey DeWare, Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench, declared the two men innocent in the eyes of the law in the murder of George Gilman Leeman, committed on November 30, 1983 in Saint John, New -Brunswick.

They were convicted in 1984 of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 18 years. An appeal of their convictions was rejected in 1988.

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Justice Minister Arif Virani.

Federal Justice Minister Arif Virani overturned both convictions last month, saying there were reasonable grounds to conclude that a miscarriage of justice had probably occurred in the case he 40 years ago.

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The legal document submitted to the court dates back to November 30, 1983. This day- There, a runner discovered the partially burned body of George Leeman in a wood in Saint-Jean, New Brunswick. He had received around twenty blows to the head and face. A pathologist concluded that the death was at least 24 hours old.

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Robert Mailman and Walter Gillespie leaving the courthouse in Saint-Jean, New Brunswick , Thursday afternoon.

Innocence Canada lawyers question the credibility of the witnesses, one of whom pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter in exchange for her testimony against Mailman and Gillespie.

They also added that neither police nor prosecutors took into account the defendants' strong alibis. They noted that at least four public inquiries had found similar problems in other cases of miscarriage of justice.

The two men had claimed that they were repairing a car when the murder was committed. They were going to look for a part to repair a windshield wiper. A witness corroborated the story, a receipt was discovered in the business where the piece was purchased on November 29, we can read in the lawyers' document.

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Ron Dalton spoke on behalf of Robert Mailman and Walter Gillespie at the exit of the Saint-Jean courthouse.

Innocence Canada mentions that Saint-Jean police investigated the alibi after a first trial ended in jury disagreement. She was able to confirm that the windshield wiper had recently been repaired, but did not notify the defense.

This did not #x27;had not stopped the Crown from urging the jury at a second trial to conclude that it was a false alibi, despite ample evidence to the contrary.< /p>

Two of the key witnesses have recanted. In the case of one of them, it even happened five times, notes Innocence Canada. The witness in question recanted his statement to his lawyer, to a journalist, in two letters and to a lawyer for the federal Department of Justice who reviewed the trial in 1998.

He said he presented false evidence in court, being forced to do so by Detective Al Martin and St. John's Deputy Police Chief Charlie Breen, support the lawyers. However, in a first statement to the police in December 1983, which had never been communicated to the defense, this witness had declared that the last time he had seen the victim, it was a week before the murder.

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Pointed out, the Saint police -Jean declined to comment on the cause at this time.

Saint-Jean police declined to comment on the case, saying they were awaiting a written copy of the Department of Justice's review which led to the trial and acquittal of Robert Mailman and Walter Gillespie.

According to Innocence Canada, it is impossible to determine who is telling the truth and who lies when witnesses recant. In such a case, in the absence of corroboration, the police and the Crown should have rejected their versions of the facts.

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