Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Legal stage of murder conspiracy clarified

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OTTAWA -- The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed the appeal of a young man convicted of conspiring to help two teenage girls drug and drown their alcoholic mother in a bathtub.

In doing so, the high court clarified the stage at which someone becomes part of a conspiracy.

A lower court convicted the man -- whose name is protected under the young offender law -- of conspiracy to commit murder for his role in the 2003 death of his girlfriend's mother.

The court heard he suggested the sisters -- who were 15 and 16 years old at the time -- ply their mother with alcohol and pills in the bathtub of their Mississauga, Ont., home.

Police uncovered a chat log between the young man and his girlfriend from a week before the murder.

"Your mom gets Tylenol 3's, right?" the man wrote.

"Probably," his girlfriend replied.

"Seriously, you should include them in the game plan," he wrote back.

"I'm not talking 20 here. I mean like five."

The dead mother was later found to have an amount of codeine in her blood consistent with the consumption of between four and six Tylenol 3 tablets.

The young man agreed to help the sisters come up with an alibi after the murder. He also suggested ways they could mislead police, suggesting they buy movie tickets for an hour before the killing took place to create a paper trail.

"I'm involved this much, I'm willing to help you out with any of it," he told his girlfriend in their chat.

He later told police his comments were not meant to be taken seriously.

The girls each received 10-year sentences, but have since been released.

The young man was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and received an 18-month sentence. Ontario's appeals court upheld the conspiracy conviction, but reduced the sentence to eight months confinement and four months under supervision.

The Supreme Court was essentially asked to determine the stage at which someone becomes part of a conspiracy, a legal question that had been answered differently from province to province.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 2, 2013 A14

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