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Vancouver riot charges held up by another hurdle Add to ...

The Crown has sent Stanley Cup riot files back to Vancouver police, undercutting one of the force’s main arguments for the pace of its investigation.

Days after the June 15 riot that left millions of dollars in damage, Vancouver police forwarded eight files to the Criminal Justice Branch. The Crown, which in B.C. must approve police charge recommendations, sent the files back to the department because they were incomplete.

Vancouver police then took a different approach. The force, citing the need to be thorough and in a move that drew a torrent of criticism, didn’t forward any more charge recommendations to the Crown until Oct. 31, four and a half months after the riot.

In August, Chief Jim Chu stressed it was “important to do this right, not to do it fast.”

The chief did not expressly state that files sent to the Crown wouldn’t be sent back to police, but their return is another delay for an investigation already criticized for the pace at which it’s moving through B.C.’s overloaded provincial court system.

Sergeant Howard Chow, a Vancouver police spokesman, said Wednesday a “handful” of files sent to the Crown since October have now been returned to police.

“There’s some files that may come back for our review, assessment, to see if there’s more investigative steps that we’re going to take,” he said.

Sgt. Chow said it’s not unheard of for files to be returned to police if the Crown needs clarification, though he didn’t disclose details on the handful of cases.

“Just because that takes place doesn’t mean everything comes to a grinding halt,” he said. “There’s still work that’s occurring in the background with the files and other investigations we’re pursuing. Sometimes it’s something very simple, sometimes it’s something a little bit more involved and we’ll determine based on this whether further evidence needs to be reviewed, whether we need to investigate further to determine where we go with it.”

The Crown did not return messages seeking comment.

Vancouver police have recommended 278 criminal charges against 100 people accused of participating in the riot.

The Crown has approved 103 charges against 38 people. Charges against eight of those people were announced Wednesday. The eight range in age from 18 to 26. Five of them are from Surrey, while the rest hail from Burnaby, Chilliwack, and Comox.

Timothy Lau, 21, of Comox, faces the most charges of anyone alleged to have taken part in the mayhem. In addition to one count of participating in a riot, Mr. Lau is charged with two counts of break and enter and six counts of mischief.

Only one of the people charged before this week has entered a guilty plea, while another has signalled her intent do so. Lawyers for both of those accused have said they’ll oppose the Crown’s application to have the court proceedings televised, following a Throne Speech pledge from Premier Christy Clark to do so.

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