Vader lawyer asks for time served

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The Travis Vader case will finally be over Jan. 25 when Justice Denny Thomas announces his sentencing decision.

Vader is seeking time served for killing an elderly St. Albert couple nearly seven years ago.

Vader was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter for killing Lyle and Marie McCann, an elderly St. Albert couple, during a robbery gone wrong on July 3, 2010 near Peers, Alberta. Their bodies have never been found.

Special accommodations have been arranged to allow Bret and Ann Marie McCann, son and daughter-in-law of the victims, to virtually attend the sentencing via teleconference.

The couple is currently in Australia visiting their daughter. When the sentencing hearing began in mid-December, Bret McCann vowed the family would be there every day. The hearing was originally scheduled for the week of Dec. 12 to 16, 2016, but was extended another week and a half.

As the more than two-week-long sentencing hearing wrapped up Wednesday morning, the defence submitted what it thought was an appropriate calculation of pre-trial credit.

It requested the court consider more than six years in pre-trial credit for the time Vader spent both in custody and under release conditions.

While the Crown is seeking life imprisonment for what they say is “as near murder as possible,” the defence is asking for a four- to six-year sentence, which, after taking into account the requested pre-trial credit, would equate to time served.

“There was an exceptionally long pre-trial process in this trial, due to the fact that there was this stay,” said defence attorney Nathan Whitling outside the courts. “Given the extraordinary length of pre-trial detention, it actually would amount to approximately six or 6.5 years of pre-trial credit, and we have otherwise suggested that an appropriate sentence would be six years.”

Whitling told reporters that the length of the pre-trial delays in Vader’s case were “exceptional” and that he believes they would be unacceptable under the Supreme Court’s recent Jordan decision, which sets out new rules for an accused’s right to be tried within a reasonable time frame.

“Frankly, in my view if the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on Jordan had been released at the time that this pre-trial application was brought the matter most likely would have been stayed, but that is now an issue on appeal,” he said.

Whitling told the Court of Queen’s Bench that Vader deserved 1.5-to-one credit for his time spent in lock up and 0.5-to-one credit while under house arrest and electronic monitoring. He also asked for three-to-one credit for each transfer to the old Edmonton Remand Centre due to triple bunking.

The Crown conceded in a written brief that Vader deserved credit for 823 days in custody, although he was detained for other charges prior to being charged of the McCanns murder in April 2012, as well as some credit for the 505 days he spent under strict release conditions.

The defence is also seeking a sentence reduction due to the “harsh conditions” Vader faced under administrative segregation while under investigation for the McCann murders and other alleged Charter right violations.

On Tuesday, Thomas rejected part of the application, citing credibility issues.

Vader testified he was naked for eight times longer than he truly was and that passersby had seen him while he was exposed during a strip search in July 2010. An agreed statement of fact recanted his earlier version of events.

Thomas reserved his sentencing decision for three weeks, to allow him to review all the relevant materials.

“This case is nothing if not an ever-expanding record,” he said.

Thomas will read a summary of his pronouncement in court Jan. 25.

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Michelle Ferguson