“For the world’s more full of weeping than you may understand”…W.B. Yeats

This Christmas, spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves. There is no shortage of candidates; Iraqi and Afghan orphans, Darfur refugees, Katrina hurricane victims and the poor and disenfranchised, wherever they may be.

And spare a thought too for Ivan Henry, 61, who is spending his 25th consecutive Christmas Day behind bars since November 23, 1983, the day he was sentenced by BC Supreme Court Justice John Bouck to an indeterminate period of incarceration as a dangerous offender. Mr. Henry steadfastly maintained his innocence and represented himself at his criminal jury trial, where he was convicted of ten counts relating to sexual assaults committed on eight women. No physical evidence was offered to link Mr. Henry to the crimes, and it was Mr. Henry’s word against the complainants’. Crown Counsel Michael Luchenko later directed a stay of proceedings with respect to seven other similar counts faced by Mr. Henry.

On February 24, 1984, the British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed Mr. Henry’s appeals against conviction and sentence for want of prosecution, as a result of Mr. Henry’s failure to file documents with the court within time. Mr. Henry, still representing himself, then launched a barrage of proceedings from jail, some of which are chronicled in Court of Appeal reasons for judgment pronounced December 16, 1997.

On December 15, 2006, Attorney General Oppal announced that Leonard Doust, Q.C. had been appointed a month earlier to review the convictions “to determine whether there has been a potential miscarriage of justice”. The Attorney General apparently became aware of “new evidence” casting doubt on whether Mr. Henry was the perpetrator of the crimes.

Mr. Henry and his two daughters, who were only six and nine years old when he was incarcerated a quarter of a century ago, are spending their second Christmas apart since the conviction review was announced, awaiting the result.


Read the Court of Appeal’s 1997 decision in R. v. Henry here: upload