Manitoba murder conviction deemed likely a miscarriage of justice by federal minister

A Manitoba man convicted of murder 50 years ago is getting another court date and a chance to clear his name.

Clarence Woodhouse was found guilty in 1974 of fatally beating and stabbing a restaurant worker in downtown Winnipeg.

Woodhouse was granted parole in 1983 and filed last year for a ministerial review of his conviction.

His lawyers have said a confession Woodhouse supposedly made was in fluent English, although he primarily spoke Saulteaux.

Federal Justice Minister Arif Virani says there are reasonable grounds to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred.

Two other men convicted in the killing, Brian Anderson and Allan Woodhouse, had their convictions quashed last year after a new trial was ordered and the Crown asked for an acquittal.

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“The minister’s decision to order a new trial is not a decision about the guilt or innocence of the applicant,” a written statement from Virani’s office said Tuesday.

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“It is a decision to return the matter to the courts where the relevant legal issues may be determined according to the law.”

James Lockyer, a lawyer and director with Innocence Canada, has said there needs to be an examination of homicide convictions involving Indigenous people over that last five decades in Manitoba.

Brian Anderson and Allan Woodhouse are suing three levels of government, saying their imprisonment was the result of racial discrimination.

Anderson’s lawsuit alleges officers coerced him, English was not his first language and he did not knowingly sign a confession.

The governments have not filed statements of defence.

Anderson served almost 11 years and was given full parole in 1987. Allan Woodhouse served 23 years.

A fourth person, Russell Woodhouse, was also convicted. He died in 2011.

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