An organization that advocates for wrongly convicted inmates is calling for the Manitoba government to launch an inquiry into the career of former star prosecutor George Dangerfield.

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An organization that advocates for wrongly convicted inmates is calling for the Manitoba government to launch an inquiry into the career of former star prosecutor George Dangerfield.

Kyle Unger, who reached an out-of-court settlement Monday for compensation for the 14 years he spent behind bars for a murder he says he didn't commit, is now the fourth of Dangerfield's high-profile convictions to be overturned after federal judicial reviews.

"Mr. Dangerfield is in a league of his own," Innocence Canada case management counsel Bhavan Sodhi said Tuesday.

Kyle Unger was wrongfully convicted in Brigitte Grenier's killing in 1990.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Kyle Unger was wrongfully convicted in Brigitte Grenier's killing in 1990.

"Innocence Canada’s view, of course, is that even if there’s potential for one more (wrongful conviction), a review is warranted... I hope the justice minister will seriously consider it."

Unger's murder conviction joins those of James Driskell, Thomas Sophonow and Frank Ostrowski prosecuted by Dangerfield in the late 1980s and early 1990s that have been quashed.

In total, the four men spent 53 years behind bars for crimes they didn't commit.

Innocence Canada has also submitted the Dangerfield-prosecuted convictions of Robert Sanderson and Brian Anderson for federal review.

Thomas Sophonow was accused, convicted and exonerated of Barbara Stoppel's murder in 1981.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Thomas Sophonow was accused, convicted and exonerated of Barbara Stoppel's murder in 1981.

"It’s possible there are more (wrongful convictions)," Sodhi said. "I wouldn’t rule it out. It’s a question that comes up every time another Dangerfield case is uncovered."

Manitoba politicians contacted by the Free Press Tuesday were mum or non-committal when asked if they’d support such a review.

A request to interview Justice Minister Cliff Cullen was declined. A written response from Cullen was sent to the Free Press, but it did not address questions posed about the possibility of an inquiry into Dangerfield’s convictions.

The statement also highlighted the settlement between Unger and the RCMP and Manitoba government — the details of which have not been disclosed — was reached "without any admission of liability by any of the parties."

James Driskell was wrongfully convicted in the killing of Perry Harder in 1991.

JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

James Driskell was wrongfully convicted in the killing of Perry Harder in 1991.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont initially agreed to an interview, but backed out minutes before it was to commence. He then declined to respond to written questions.

A request to interview Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew or NDP Justice Critic Nahanni Fontaine was declined. A written statement from Fontaine was sent to the Free Press, but it failed to address any of the submitted questions.

In 2005, the province called a public inquiry into Driskell's conviction, headed by former Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Patrick Lesage, who found the work of several Crown prosecutors, including Dangerfield, "fell below then existing professional standards expected of lawyers and agents of the attorney general."

Frank Ostrowski was found guilty of ordering the shooting death of a drug dealer in 1987. His conviction was quashed.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Frank Ostrowski was found guilty of ordering the shooting death of a drug dealer in 1987. His conviction was quashed.

In the years since, Dangerfield has been found to have withheld information from defence attorneys, relied on dubious evidence to secure convictions and made financial deals with jailhouse informants that he failed to disclose.

Sodhi said the need for an inquiry is clear, given what is known about Dangerfield's record.

"What would be beneficial is a formal process that would allow people to make submissions, that would hopefully give the community some sort of assurance that these cases have been reviewed in light of what we’ve been uncovering," he said.

"We were very happy to hear that Kyle (Unger) finally settled, since it’s been a long haul for him... But I just think none of these people are the same afterwards. The compensation helps, it (can) make things a little bit easier, but it’s definitely an uphill battle."

Dangerfield, who is in his 80s and believed to be living in British Columbia, has previously declined repeated requests for comment from the Free Press.

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
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Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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