This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
In a unanimous decision made by The Supreme Court of Canada on Tuesday, it has rejected the Crown’s appeal to revoke a stay imposed over the proceedings against 31 Hells Angels members charged with drug trafficking offences. While announcing the verdict, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin mentioned that the charges were dropped because the case against the accused would have violated the defendants’ charter right to be tried within a reasonable amount of time.
The case is related to the Quebec police operation that resulted in arrests of 156 people associated with Hells Angels in a massive operation known as SharQc in 2009. Almost thirty-one of the suspects were charged with drug offences while the rest faced murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges. In a previous ruling, Superior Court Judge James Brunton decided that the Crown was “flagrantly unprepared” for the case and said it would take several years to try all of the accused. Hence, Brunton concluded to continue judicial proceedings only for those accused of murder or conspiracy to commit murder and halt proceedings for the rest. The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld Brunton’s decision.
Supreme Court announced its ruling from the bench without even hearing arguments from lawyers representing the accused. McLachlin mentioned that the Supreme Court’s decision protects the accused’s charter rights “and it protects the public interest to avoid the prosecution falling apart due to unreasonable delays.” Several of the 156 suspects arrested have died since 2009, while some have pleaded guilty, leaving only 51 of the original 156 suspects eligible to stand trial.