Canada
Ex-Scouts leader who confessed sex assault of boys gets new trial

Credits: LYLE ASPINALL/QMI AGENCY

MICHAEL MUI | QMI AGENCY

VANCOUVER - A former Boy Scouts leader who confessed to sexually assaulting two boys two decades ago will get a new trial after the BC Court of Appeal ruled the trial judge "improperly informed" the jury of how much weight to give his police confession.

The appeal court ruled John Gabriel Viszlai was "substantially prejudiced" by the trial judge, who referred twice to a jury-excluded hearing to clear up whether the confession was done properly by police.

"This could well have confused the jury and influenced its consideration of Mr. Viszlai's position that any admissions he made were unreliable because of the manner in which the interview was conducted," the appeal court wrote.

Police were notified of the case in 2007 and arrested Viszlai several weeks later. In an interview with a Victoria police detective, the court was told he didn't speak much, but admitted to sexual assault and wrote a letter of apology to the two boys, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban.

The trial judge determined the detective didn't use any improper techniques, but Viszlai told the court he had "no direct recollection of the interview" and denied any improper conduct with the two boys during his testimony.

"Given that the statement was an important piece of evidence, Mr. Viszlai's conviction cannot, as urged by the Crown in the alternative, be sustained under the curative provision of the Criminal Code," the appeal court ruled.

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