Manslaughter appeal for “guy next door” caught up with loan sharks
An appeal date has been set for a case that highlights the desperate measures people take when involved with loan sharks, says Toronto criminal lawyer Catriona Verner.
The Ontario Court of Appeal will on Sept. 24 hear Kenneth Docherty’s appeal of a manslaughter conviction arising from the May 29, 2008 death of Tyson Weber.
Described as “your guy next door,” Docherty’s case is about how a middle-class man, engaged to be married, with a nice home and good job, went to desperate measures to pay off loan sharks, says Verner.
“It’s about how his life became a nightmare after he met two men whom he discovered were loan sharks,” she says. Docherty factum
In the case factum filed with the court Verner writes: “. . . the deceased went to the appellant’s home expecting to collect $40,000, possibly as repayment towards a loan of $3,000. Despite significant efforts by the appellant to collect that amount, including elaborate schemes to obtain a bank loan under false pretenses and attempting to defraud his employer, the appellant had nothing to give the deceased on May 29th. This was not the first time the appellant had made false promises to the deceased. In fact, the deceased had become frustrated with the appellant and had suggested to his fiancé that the appellant ‘deserved a good beating.’
“Since the appellant did not testify, the only version of the stabbing before the jury was the version the appellant had given police within hours of the altercation. He said the deceased discovered that he had been lying about having money in his bank account; that the deceased confronted him about the lies and threatened to kill or seriously injure him, and so, with the knife the appellant had grabbed from the kitchen counter (there were sharper, sturdier knives on the counter), he stabbed the deceased in the throat. The appellant admitted to police that he intended to kill the deceased, but did so in fear for his life. The pathologist confirmed that death would have been immediate,” says the factum.
During his trial, the Crown called several witnesses who were involved with the same loan shark, who told the court how they were terrorized by him, says Verner. One lost his house.
“One witness testified that his family was so afraid of the loan shark that his kids slept in their bedroom closet after a $27,000 loan quickly skyrocketed to$ 130,000, and that it was impossible to keep up,” she says.
At issue in the appeal is whether Docherty acted in self-defence, says Verner who will argue that there were serious errors in the charge to the jury – such that if the jury was properly instructed her client would have been acquitted.