Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Neal Hall

p. A6.

Waiting for justice a 'long time'

Daughters of man granted appeal say they and their father have lost the best years of life

Ivan William Henry's two adult daughters said Tuesday they have waited 26 years for the justice system to acknowledge their father's claims of innocence.

Ivan Henry convicted of sex crimes in 1983, was declared a dangerous offender and imprisoned for life. However, he may have a second chance after being granted the right to appeal his conviction.
Ivan Henry convicted of sex crimes in 1983, was declared a dangerous offender and imprisoned for life. However, he may have a second chance after being granted the right to appeal his conviction.

"It's been a long time coming," Tanya Henry, 35, said outside court minutes after three B.C. Court of Appeal judges unanimously ruled to reopen the appeal of Ivan William Henry, 62.

"We've waited a long time. We just want to be a family again."

She explained that she and her sister, Kari Henry, 33, were aged only nine and seven when their dad was arrested on July 29, 1982. He has been in custody ever since.

After his conviction, Henry was declared a dangerous offender, which carries an indefinite prison term, and spent the first 12 years in a Saskatchewan prison.

Tanya Henry explained it was tough growing up with their father convicted of 10 sex offences involving eight Vancouver women.

"We were judged by the public and harshly looked upon," she said Tuesday.

"It's been a huge family secret. We were kicked out of neighbourhoods and moved around many times to try to hide who we were.

"Over the years, we've come to realize things were wrong."

She said her father " has been excited and waiting for this moment since he was put in there. He knew it was coming. He knew from Day 1. He feels strongly this is the life God gave him and that there was a reason for it."

She and her sister have always been in contact with their father, she said, but after their mother died in 1990, " we took it upon ourselves to kind of get to know each other again."

Asked if Henry wants compensation for his time he spent in prison, proclaiming he was wrongly convicted, defence lawyer Cameron Ward said: "That's an issue that will be dealt with at a later time. It's not an issue at the forefront of his mind.

" He's concerned about being vindicated and cleared of these convictions and getting out of jail."

Ward said his client will be seeking release on bail before his appeal is heard this year. Henry is in Mountain Institution prison in the Fraser Valley.

Ward credited members of his legal team David Layton and Marilyn Sandford — for helping Henry finally receive an appeal of his conviction, which was first rejected in 1984 and again in 1997 by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Tanya Henry said it has been difficult for her family.

"My father has been denied love. We have children who don't know their grandfather. Twenty-six years is a long time. Those were the best years of his life and the best years of our lives. They can't be brought back, but we hope with today's verdict we can start the healing process of our family."

Tanya said she has a 15-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter, and her sister has a 13-year-old.

She said they told their children about their grandfather in 2006, when a top criminal defence lawyer, Len Doust, was appointed by the attorney-general to review the case as a possible miscarriage of justice.

Ivan Henry represented himself at trial, when he was convicted. He applied for legal aid for an appeal but was never approved.

He immediately applied for an appeal of his conviction, which was later dismissed as abandoned because Henry failed to file the necessary court transcripts and appeal books laying out his grounds of appeal.

Appeal Court Justice Mary Saunders, in her oral ruling Tuesday, said Henry has never had an appeal of his case heard on its merits, so the court allowed the appeal to be reopened.

"This is an extraordinary application," she said, finding it was in the interests of justice to reopen the appeal.

Ward said the turning point in the case came after Doust's report last March, which led to Henry getting legal aid.

Doust recommended the Crown not oppose Henry's application for an appeal and asked the attorney-general to disclose two categories of material relating to an investigation into another man that was launched after the investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton, which yielded statements by the complainants in the sex assaults that were not properly disclosed at trial.

The court was told Vancouver police reinvestigated a number of sex crimes that occurred in the 1980s after Pickton was charged with more than two dozen murders.

Special prosecutor David Crossin told the appeal court that if leave was granted, there should be a ban on publication on the identity of a man now identified as a suspect in the offences that put Henry in jail.

The appeal court imposed a onemonth interim ban on the identity of that man, who was convicted in 2005 of three other sex offences.

There is also a ban on the names of a total of 51 women complainants, including 22 linked to the police investigation of Henry.

In 1983 Henry was convicted on three counts of rape, two counts of attempted rape and five counts of indecent assault in attacks on eight women in Vancouver neighbourhoods.

The women lived in ground-floor or basement suites and were sexually assaulted by an intruder who entered their homes while they were sleeping between May 5, 1981, and June 8, 1982.

No physical evidence was offered to link Henry to the crimes.

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Created: January 21, 2009
Last modified: June 21, 2009
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