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Court ruled Henry's bid for evidence 'frivolous,' records show

During his years in prison for crimes he says he did not commit, Ivan Henry sought medical records and DNA evidence in the hopes of proving his innocence.

But those efforts proved fruitless, as most physical evidence had been returned to victims or destroyed and because Mr. Henry's jailhouse requests - made without legal advice - were dismissed.

A Dec. 13, 2000, order by the Supreme Court of British Columbia turned down Mr. Henry's applications for medical records as "frivolous and inappropriate" and rejected his application for police reports relating to his case.

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His efforts to obtain medical reports and other information are reflected in historical court files made available yesterday to the news media.

They also include a Feb. 23, 2000, letter from British Columbia's privacy watchdog that politely rebuffs Mr. Henry's efforts to obtain DNA evidence relating to his conviction through a Freedom of Information request.

"The [Vancouver Police Department's]position with respect to your request is that the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act does not cover physical evidence gathered by investigators in the course of a police investigation," says the letter from B.C.'s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

"The VPD points out that even if such physical evidence was covered by the Act, the only legal obligation of the VPD under the Act would be to hold it in their possession for one year," the letter states.

Given doubts as to whether the act applied, and the fact that even if it did, records had to be kept for a one-year minimum, the privacy office closed the file.

Records previously made available included copies of a police lineup photo that shows Mr. Henry being restrained by two uniformed officers. That lineup, and other aspects of Mr. Henry's trial, are expected to come under scrutiny when his appeal is heard this year.

Mr. Henry was convicted in 1983 of 10 counts of rape and assault involving eight different women and was declared a dangerous offender. He has always maintained he did not commit the crimes, which took place in Vancouver and were carried out by a knife-wielding attacker breaking into basement and ground-floor suites.

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Mr. Henry represented himself at his trial.

His initial appeal was dismissed in February, 1984, and a similar request was turned down in 1997.

But last month, the Court of Appeal unanimously granted Mr. Henry's application to reopen his appeal, more than 26 years since his arrest in 1982 and a little more than two years after a special prosecutor was appointed to look into his case.

Special prosecutor Leonard Doust was handed the file after a Vancouver Police Department investigation into unsolved sexual assaults that occurred in the mid- to late-1980s turned up another suspect who committed crimes similar to those of which Mr. Henry had been convicted.

A suspect in that investigation pleaded guilty to three assaults in 2005 and was released on parole last year. His name is under a publication ban.

Mr. Henry has been in custody since he was arrested in 1982. His lawyers have said they will request bail pending his new appeal, which is expected to be heard some time this year.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More


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