Abused wife paying “hit man” to
murder husband who has threatened her life
Whether duress is available in law asa defence where the threats made against the accused were not made for the purposeof compelling the commission of an offence
Statutory and common law parametersof defence of duress
Whether stay of proceedings is appropriate in circumstancesof case.
R was the victim of a violent, abusive and controlling husband. She believed that he would cause her and their daughter serious bodily harm or death andthat she had no safe avenue of escape other than having him killed. She spoke to anundercover RCMP officer posing as a hit man and agreed to pay him $25,000 to killher husband. She gave $2,000, an address and a picture of her husband to the officer.She was arrested and charged with counselling the commission of an offence notcommitted contrary to s. 464(
) of the
. The trial judge was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the requisite elements of the offence were established.The only issue at trial was whether the defence of duress applied. The trial judge
accepted R’s evidence that the sole
reason for her actions was intense and reasonable
fear arising from her husband’s threats of death and serious bodily harm to h
erself and their daughter. The trial judge found that the common law defence of duressapplied and acquitted R. On appeal, for the first time, the Crown argued that duresswas not available to R in law. The Court of Appeal upheld the acquittal.
2 0 1 3 S C C 3 ( C a n L I I )