Quantum of Compensation - Introduction

In assessing the quantum of compensation that should be paid to Mr. Truscott, the starting point must necessarily be Mr. Truscott's ordeal that began with his arrest in June 1959, certain details of which I set out earlier in this report.

Mr. Truscott was taken into custody on June 12, 1959 and formally arrested on June 13, 1959. He was 14 years old. From that time until October 21, 1969 - over ten years later - he remained in custody.

He was held initially at the Goderich jail. For the first four months, until he was convicted, he was given approximately 30 minutes per day in the jail courtyard for exercise.

On September 30, 1959, he was convicted of murder and was sentenced to death. For the next four months, he remained in the Goderich jail, awaiting execution. The hanging was originally scheduled for early December, but was postponed until February.

Mr. Truscott has given me a personal statement, in which he very movingly describes the fear and confusion that he felt as a young teenager, imprisoned and put on trial for a crime that he has always maintained he did not commit. His fear changed to uncomprehending shock when, despite all of the assurances that he had been given by his parents and his counsel, he was convicted and sentenced to hang.

After his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in January 1960, Mr. Truscott was transferred to the Ontario Training School for Boys in Guelph. Mr. Truscott has described the intense isolation that he felt throughout this time. Any relationships that he developed with other boys in the institution were short-lived, as those boys served their time and were released. Moreover, because Mr. Truscott's father had been transferred to Ottawa, visits from his family were less frequent than they otherwise might have been.

At the age of 18, he was transferred to the federal penitentiary at Collins Bay, near Kingston, where he remained for almost seven years. While his parents could visit with somewhat greater frequency, Mr. Truscott found that they had less and less to talk about. He felt that he was drifting apart from his family, which increased his sense of loneliness and isolation.

All of Mr. Truscott's adolescence and early adulthood was spent in custody. He effectively lost all of the years between 14 and 24. He did not go to high school. He did not attend college or university. He spent these crucial formative years isolated from his peers, with no chance to partake in the ordinary activities and experiences that contribute to the significant social, emotional and cognitive development that occurs during that stage of life.

In addition to this physical and psychological dislocation, incarceration also carried with it an near complete loss of privacy. This began just hours after his arrest, when he was physically examined by two physicians at the RCAF guardhouse in Clinton. Those two physicians observed sores on Mr. Truscott's penis, which became the subject not only of trial testimony and judicial deliberation, but also countless newspaper, television and radio reports. Moreover, from the moment of his arrest, Mr. Truscott was, like every prison inmate, under constant surveillance and scrutiny.

While in prison, Mr. Truscott was also subjected to psychiatric treatment that, by twenty-first century standards, appears highly questionable. Mr. Truscott's impression of the therapy sessions mat he was ordered to attend is mat the psychiatrists were chiefly interested in eliciting a confession of guilt. On a number of occasions, the psychiatrists administered LSD or sodium pentothal to Mr. Truscott. Mr. Truscott has explained that, while he and his parents did consent to the administration of the drugs, they did so because they believed that the psychiatrist's support was needed in order to obtain parole.

While there is no reason to doubt that the psychiatrists acted throughout with honourable intentions, it must also be recognized that such an experience would be extremely distressing for a person who had been incarcerated for a crime mat he did not commit.

The humiliation suffered by Mr. Truscott throughout these years was also profound. He was at the forefront of public attention, branded a rapist and murderer. The Supreme Court rejected his sworn testimony as lacking in credibility. Beyond this, he had to endure the daily humiliations of incarceration. For example, in February 1960 he was taken to the Kingston Penitentiary for "processing". On the way, Mr. Truscott and the accompanying corrections officers stopped at a roadside restaurant. Mr. Truscott had to walk into the restaurant in leg irons and eat his meal while handcuffed. He has described in a letter to me how emotionally distressing this was for hum.

Mr. Truscott was released from prison and placed on parole in October 1969. His parents had separated two years earlier. So, he went to live at first with Mac Steinberg, the prison's former chaplain, who was then working as a parole officer. Mr. Steinberg and his wife helped Mr. Truscott evade the media attention that accompanied his release, and welcomed him into their home, assisting him in making the transition to life out of prison.

Mr. Truscott stayed with the Steinbergs for six months. Then, in the spring of 1970, the parole board determined that he should live in British Columbia with his grandparents. In April of 1970, he moved to Vancouver. While there, he formed a relationship with Marlene - whom he would later marry. The two were introduced by Isabel LeBourdais.

In the summer of 1970, he and Marlene decided that they wanted to marry and move back to Ontario. However, the parole board was reluctant to approve the move, citing the media attention that would ensue. Mr. Truscott persisted and, with the assistance of Mr. Steinberg, obtained the necessary approvals. However, in order to avoid any publicity, he and Marlene were told that the wedding would have to be held in secret. Ultimately, the ceremony was performed by Mr. Steinberg. A member of the parole board and his wife, whom Marlene had never met before, acted as the witnesses. Steven and Marlene were not allowed to have any family members present.

Over the next thirty-seven years, Mr. Truscott and his wife settled and raised three children in Guelph, where Marlene's parents lived. Mr. Truscott worked throughout those years for two different companies - at Unread of Canada for 17 years and then at Owens Corning for 20 years. He was employed first as a machinist, a trade he had learned while in Collins Bay, and later as a mechanical millwright.

Although Mr. Truscott was freed from prison in 1969, he remained on parole until his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in August of 2007. For the first five years of parole, Mr. Truscott was under the close supervision of his parole officer and was not permitted to leave the city of Guelph without prior approval. Even after his parole conditions were relaxed in November of 1974, he was required to notify the parole board of any change of his place of residence.

One of the conditions of his parole - imposed when he was first released from Collins Bay -was that he take a new family name, to avoid publicity. He has lived under the name "Bowers" (his mother's maiden name) for virtually all of the years since his release.

Throughout most of that time, Mr. Truscott lived in fear that his true identity would be discovered - either by neighbours or acquaintances, or by his children, who were not told the truth about their father's background until they were teenagers. As a result of this fear of exposure, the family has moved nine times since 1970. The prime motivator in these moves was Mr. Truscott's desire to protect his children. He wanted to do whatever he could to make sure that his children's prospects and happiness were not blighted by his status as a convicted murderer.

Despite his best efforts, Mr. Truscott could not completely hide his identity. On one occasion, his daughter lost a friend, because the little girl's mother had heard that Mr. Truscott was a convicted rapist. Years later, another of his daughter's friends confronted her with Mr. Truscott's true identity.

In his personal statement, Mr. Truscott has recounted many incidents where indignities small and large that were visited on him as a result of his status as a convicted murderer. He could not travel outside of Canada with his family. He did not take his children to his father's funeral, because he knew that members of the media would be there, and did not want his children to be confronted. His children endured strained relations with friends, and painfully uncomfortable moments in school, on occasions when lessons were taught about Mr. Truscott's case.

And Mr. Truscott himself has to cope with the psychological after-effects of his conviction and incarceration, including nightmares and a degree of social anxiety. His entire personality changed, as he became shy and hesitant in social settings. He has had to deal with all of this without the benefit of psychiatric care - a choice which is understandable given the negative experiences he had with prison psychiatrists at Collins Bay.

In short, Mr. Truscott and his family have lived their lives for almost 50 years in the shadow of his murder conviction.

There is no question but that Mr. Truscott's conviction, incarceration and parole forever altered his life. For nearly 50 years, he bore the stigma of being a convicted rapist and murderer of a 12-year-old girl. I would not presume to minimize his suffering. What he has gone through makes what I am about to recount all the more remarkable. Despite all of his hardships and against all odds, Mr. Truscott has managed to build a remarkably stable and successful life for himself and his family. He and Marlene have been married for almost 37 years. Together, they raised three children, who by all accounts are leading productive and happy lives.

Mr. Truscott has been employed without interruption over the last 37 years, working for only two different employers. While his annual income was relatively modest and while I expect that, with three children, it did not allow the Truscotts much in the way of luxuries, it did afford them a reasonable degree of financial stability.

All that Mr. Truscott has achieved is a powerful testament to his internal strength and resilience, and his native abilities, as well as to the support that he received from his wife and children, family and friends.


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