Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Just because a statement is ruled voluntary does not mean the statement is true

In R. v. Angutimarik (February 15, 2016 NCJ unreported) the Court makes clear that a confession, even if admissible as voluntary, is not necessarily to be taken as true.  The statement is evidence only to be considered with other evidence by the trier of fact.  That said, if the statement is before the Court and the accused fails to testify it will be challenging to argue the statement is false:

As I mentioned earlier, a voir dire had been conducted last year which determined that Peter's statements to the police would be allowed into evidence at his trial. During that voir dire hearing Peter took the witness stand and testifed that the confession which he gave to the police was false, and that he lied to the police simply in order to step what he felt was a torturous police interrogation.

The legal issue before me last year at the voir dire was, however, not the veracity of Peter's confession. Rather, the issue at the voir dire was whether Peter's confession was made voluntarily, and whether it could be part of the evidence at this trial. I concluded that it was made voluntarily and could be properly admitted into evidence against him.

Since, however, Peter elected not to testify at this trial, I had no testimony from him suggesting that he gave a false confession to the police. Nonetheless, and as Defence Counsel so ably argued during final submission, I was still required to be cautious in assessing (as I watched the video and read the accompanying transcript) whether to accept that Peter's statement to the police was indeed true.

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