September 4, 1996
VICTORIA -- An investigation into the case of fifteen-year old Molly Justice, murdered 53 years ago in Saanich, has found no evidence of a cover-up, Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh said today in releasing the 147-page report of the investigation.
Former B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Martin Taylor, QC, conducted the investigation, announced by the Attorney General on July 3.
"Mr. Justice Taylor was asked to examine this case from another era because of continuing public concern over possible injustices in how the matter was handled at the time," said Dosanjh.
"As an experienced jurist and legal historian, Mr. Justice Taylor was well-suited to undertake such an investigation. I thank him for his thorough report and hope that it helps lay to rest unsubstantiated rumours and offers some closure and relief to those still living who were affected by these tragic events."
Taylor's report concludes there is nothing to support suggestions the deputy attorney general of the day, Eric Pepler, covered up evidence against a suspect in the case, Frank Hulbert. Neither could Taylor find evidence that Pepler was related to Hulbert, as had been suggested in the media.
The report points out that special treatment by Pepler for Hulbert is inconsistent with Hulbert's having been charged, convicted and punished for a sexual assault on another girl four months after Molly Justice's murder. Hulbert served two years and 10 months in prison at Okalla as a teenager for that and four other offences during Pepler's term as deputy attorney general.
In his report, Taylor states: "Reports concerning admissions made by Hulbert to provincial police officers, which it has been said were withheld from the Saanich police, contained information already known to the Saanich police before the reports were prepared. Eric Pepler twice suggested to the Saanich authorities that the Saanich police obtain copies of these reports from the provincial police."
Dosanjh said the uncertainty regarding the Hulbert case would be extremely unlikely today because the relationship between police investigations and how charging decisions are made has changed dramatically since 1943. "Under today's legislation, charging decisions are made independently by the criminal justice branch. If a deputy attorney general or attorney general wished to direct the branch in a decision, that could only be done in writing and publicly. In addition, there is today a formal process for police to appeal charge decisions."
Acknowledging criticism by Taylor that the justice system of the day did not inform a victim of a sexual assault by Hulbert that her assailant had been punished for assaulting her, Dosanjh said that careless disregard of the victim was shocking and unacceptable.
"This kind of re-victimizing the victim is why our government introduced the Victims of Crime Act, which came into force in July," said Dosanjh. "The act gives victims the right to information about their cases from investigation through prosecution, including the right to be informed about the status of the charged person or offender."
Dosanjh also responded to Taylor's recommendation for managing documents in the ministry. Taylor pointed out difficulties under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in receiving documents promptly for his investigation.
"A full review of the information and privacy act, mandated by the legislation itself, is coming up shortly, and I will ensure that Mr. Justice Taylor's recommendation is part of that review," said Dosanjh. "Also, our recently established special squad dedicated to unsolved murders in B.C., along with state-of-the-art DNA equipment and a forensic dentistry lab, will help decrease the likelihood that cases such as Molly Justice's will left unresolved."
Dosanjh joined Taylor in inviting anyone with further information about this case to come forward and contact either Taylor or himself.
- 30 -
Tel. (604) 387-5008 (Victoria)
Copies of Mr. Justice Taylor's report may be ordered from the Communications and Education Division of the Ministry of Attorney General, 10th Floor, 1001 Douglas Street, Victoria, British Columbia V8V 1X4.