R v Olson | The Canadian Encyclopedia


R v Olson

R v Olson In the summer of 1982, Clifford Robert Olson was arrested for the murder of 11 children.

R v Olson

R v Olson In the summer of 1982, Clifford Robert Olson was arrested for the murder of 11 children. He entered guilty pleas to the charges of murder, but it was later revealed that the attorney general of BC had agreed to a proposal by Olson that $100 000 be held in trust for Olson's wife and infant son in return for Olson's help in finding 6 missing bodies and providing information on 4 bodies already discovered. Reports of the deal sparked bitter controversy across the country over the ethics of a criminal benefiting from his crimes and over police payment for information. The debate raised questions about the propriety of deals made with any criminal, including payment for information and withdrawal of charges in return for information or evidence. It has been argued that such inducements could lead to the creation of "professional witnesses" who are involved in crimes and yet benefit from them. Although the Supreme Court of Canada held in R v Palmer and Palmer (1979) that payment for evidence was legal, there has been a growing demand for attorneys general to establish ethical guidelines for such payment. In the context of civil law, the payment to Olson's wife and son was challenged by the families of Olson's victims, who argued that they were entitled to compensation for the deaths of their children. Justice Trainor of the British Columbia Supreme Court decided that the families of the victims were entitled to claim against the money paid in trust to Olson's wife and son, but this decision was reversed by the BC Court of Appeal, and a later application for Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was dismissed.

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