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Ivan Henry, wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years, won’t receive full $8-million

Ivan Henry, who was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in 1983, leaves B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday August 31, 2015.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

A man who was wrongfully imprisoned for nearly three decades has had his compensation award cut by the British Columbia Supreme Court.

The court ordered the B.C. government in June to pay Ivan Henry $8-million in damages after he spent 27 years in prison for sexual assault before a court overturned the conviction in 2010.

Mr. Henry sued the City of Vancouver and the federal and provincial governments, but settled with the city and federal government for an undisclosed amount in 2015 while his case against the province went ahead.

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The province then went back to court, asking it to deduct the amount of those undisclosed settlements from the total damages award.

Justice Christopher Hinkson said in a ruling issued last week that the lawsuit against the three levels of government was indivisible, so the claims should also be unified.

"While the allegations against the settling defendants and non-settling defendants were based upon different allegations of fault, the relief sought was essentially the same: compensation for a wrongful conviction and some 27 years of incarceration," he wrote. "I find that at least some of the settlement funds paid by the settling defendants to the plaintiff must be deducted from the damages that I have found the plaintiff is owed by the province."

The ruling did not say how much the city and federal government settled for or how much the province must now pay Mr. Henry. Mr. Henry's lawyers declined to comment on the decision or whether they will appeal.

They argued in court that Mr. Henry should be awarded as much as $43-million for damages.

Justice Hinkson wrote in his original ruling on the compensation award that Mr. Henry likely would have been acquitted during a trial in 1983 if he had received the disclosure he was entitled to.

The judge said the Crown's decision to withhold information demonstrated a "shocking disregard" for his rights and "seriously infringed" on his right to a fair trial.

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