The retrial for Curtis Vey and Angela Nicholson ended almost as soon as it started.
On Monday, a Court of Queen’s Bench judge found both Vey and Nicholson not guilty of conspiring to kill their spouses after ruling that a key piece of evidence was inadmissible.
In a 73-page written statement issued on Monday, Justice Catherine Dawson ruled that iPod recordings made by Vey’s wife breached both Vey’s and Nicholson’s section 8 charter rights.
The pair hugged their respective family members in the courtroom after being acquitted.
The Crown did not bring any other evidence forward to preserve the right of appeal, leading Dawson to find Vey and Nicholson not guilty on two counts of conspiracy to commit murder. Both had been found guilty in a jury trial three years ago, but those convictions were overturned on appeal.
Neither Vey nor Nicholson spoke to the media afterwards, however Nicholson’s lawyer, Ron Piche, said his client was elated at the decision. He also pushed back on any notion that the case was overturned on a technicality.
“There are three (Supreme Court) cases out there that really changed the landscape for defence and this argument (since 2013),” Piche said in an interview on the Court of Queen’s Bench steps. “The court could not have been clearer in terms of what is now a privacy interest.”
Piche and Vey’s defence lawyer, Aaron Fox, argued that police failed to get the necessary warrants to listen in on the iPod recording. The issue was not the apparatus used to record the conversation, but the actual conversation itself. Justice Dawson agreed, but just barely, calling it a “narrow decision” prior to announcing her ruling.
“Ten years ago I’m sure it would have been an eye-opener for Joe Public,” Piche said. “But, if you read this decision carefully you’ll understand why it’s so important to respect the privacy interests of citizens in Canada. That’s the society we live in, fortunately.”
The court’s iPod ruling does not necessarily affect derivative evidence. That means other evidence, like testimony from undercover officers, may not be affected.
That will be one of the issues should the Crown appeal the decision, something senior prosecutor Lori O’Connor hasn’t committed to either way. She’s waiting to read the entire decision and consult with the appeals office.
“The legal issue is not one that we could have addressed today,” O’Connor told reporters. “The issue for the Crown today was, ‘without (the recording) what evidence do we have?’ We’ll go back and make decisions about whether to appeal it and potentially come back and be in this position again.
While there is some uncertainty about the direction this case will take, at least one person is ready to move on.
Brigitte Vey, the wife of Curtis Vey and the person responsible for recording the conversation, was also at Monday’s trial. Afterwards, she said she was ready to get on with her life.
“I’m okay with this,” she said. “I’m at peace.”
Piche said his client is also ready to move on with her life and get out of the public spotlight.
“I firmly believe this: people don’t know the accused,” he said. “They see them walking into court. They see their photos and stuff. They don’t know the person very well. It might have been in her interest to let the people know through an interview here what she’s like … but she’s a very reserved person. She didn’t want to do that.”
Curtis Vey of Wakaw and Angela Nicholson of Melfort were originally sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of planning to drug and kill their spouses in 2013. Brigitte Vey captured their conversation on an iPod hidden in their farmhouse after she became concerned that her husband was cheating.
During the first trial, defence lawyers argued that the plan was unsophisticated and that neither Vey nor Nicholson had any intention of carrying it out.
That conviction was overturned, with an appeals court ruling that the trial judge failed to properly instruct the jury.
Curtis Vey is the father of former NHL and Canadian Olympic hockey player Linden Vey.