Quebec Appeal Court provides more guidance over Mr. Big operations

The Quebec Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for a Quebec man convicted of second degree murder after it held that an out-of-court statement he made was involuntary, evidence yielded by a Mr. Big kind of operation was inadmissible and the trial judge should have given more detailed instructions to the jury.

The decision, exceptionally published in French and English, appears to have slightly broadened the kind of cases that may fall into the Mr. Big category and provides a timely reminder that the confessions rule is not subject to a negative inquiry, according to criminal lawyers.

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Another blow for Mr. Big operations

A Quebec man convicted of the first degree murder of his pregnant wife following a Mr. Big operation police sting operation is now a free man after the Quebec Court of Appeal found that his confession was obtained under duress, the second time this year that the appeal court has taken a dim view of the elaborate police strategy.

“Thousands and thousands of dollars are invested by the state in these Mr. Big operations to try to elicit a confession,” remarked Montreal criminal lawyer Jean-Philippe Marcoux. “And after all that, for it to reach the Court who ordered a stay of proceedings, it is a dismal failure.”

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New trial ordered for murderer following insufficiently clear jury instructions

A new trial has been ordered for a 51-year old Quebec City man convicted of first degree murder after the Quebec Court of Appeal held that the trial judge did not provide with sufficiently clear instructions to the jury over the reliability of a confession made in a “Mr. Big” police sting operation.

In a case that applied the new framework established last year by the Supreme Court of Canada over the admissibility of confessions elicited during “Mr. Big” operations, the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that the confession made by Alain Perreault during the police sting was admissible because its probative value outweighed its prejudicial effects. But the appeal court found the trial judge should have instructed the jury the context in which the admission was made to address concerns about the reliability and prejudice that arise from these confessions. “Mr. Big” operations are elaborate stings where undercover agents recruit suspects into fictitious criminal organizations to gain their trust and extract a confession, particularly in cold cases.

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