Ontario Crowns brought in to handle Headingley guard case

A case involving a guard at Headingley Correctional Centre charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life will be handled by Crown lawyers from Ontario.

Robert Jeffrey Morden is facing the charges in connection with the death of 45-year-old William Ahmo, an inmate at the jail. Ahmo died in hospital on Feb. 14, 2021, seven days after an incident in the common room at the correctional centre.

Morden was charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life. The charges have not been tested in court, and Morden is considered innocent.

In a statement to CTV News Winnipeg, a provincial spokesperson said: “While Manitoba Prosecution Service (MPS) could, and has, prosecuted Manitoba Justice employees, it is a discretionary decision. The MPS appointment of Independent counsel policy indicates:

Whenever a criminal charge is laid against a person who is directly connected to the justice system, there may be a reasonable perception that the accused could receive some kind of differential treatment if prosecuted by a staff Crown Attorney. In all such cases, consideration must be given as to whether the matter should be conducted by independent counsel.

To eliminate any concern of bias and bolster public confidence, it was determined that referring this matter to the Ontario Ministry of Justice was appropriate to ensure the appropriate experience and skillset were applied to the prosecution, as well as independence from Manitoba Justice.”

Corey Shefman, the lawyer representing the Ahmo family in a civil suit against the province and Morden, told CTV News Winnipeg they are aware that the Crown lawyers are being brought in from out of province.

“The Ahmo family agrees that that is an appropriate decision in the circumstances,” he said.

The trial of Robert Jeffrey Morden is scheduled for September.



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