TORONTO -- A career criminal who has long faced deportation from Canada has been found not guilty of trying to turn a teenage girl into a hooker.
Walford Uriah Steer, 40, of Jamaica, who was once listed as one of Canada's most wanted fugitives, was acquitted Jan. 24 in a Toronto court of a handful of prostitution-related charges involving a 16-year-old girl, according to a statement from his lawyer.
Steer was arrested in August 2011 for allegedly taking the teen to an west-end motel, shooting photos of her to advertise her on the Internet, and telling her she could make money by being a prostitute.
"Mr. Steer has consistently maintained his innocence," said Steer's lawyer, Genevieve McInnes, in a statement from the law offices of Derstine-Penman. "Although we are of course extremely pleased that the truth has finally come to light, it's unfortunate that it took almost two years for his innocence to be proven in the eyes of the courts and the public."
McInnes went on to say that Steer, who had been deported from Canada once before but conned his way back in shortly after, was "thrilled" with the court's decision.
Steer was, however, found guilty of one count of obstructing a peace officer in the case and sentenced to 90 days of time served, plus one day in jail, according to Ministry of Attorney General spokesman Brendan Crawley, who didn't know the current whereabouts of Steer.
Since first arriving in Canada in 1993 via a parental sponsorship, Steer has racked up 76 convictions, including assault, fraud and theft. He was deported in 1999 for his criminal doings, but reportedly made his way back in a year later using bogus documents. He then requested refugee status, claiming he'd be harmed if sent back to Jamaica.
His refugee status was approved by the Immigration and Refugee Board in 2003.
Since then, Steer, who Immigration Minister Jason Kenney once called a "present and future danger to the Canadian public," ended up on the Canada Border Service Agency's list of the country's most wanted criminals.
Steer has fought his second deportation.
He was arrested for the alleged prostitution offences in August 2011.
Comment from the CBSA was not immediately available. Calls for lawyer Genevieve McInnes were not returned.