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An Ontario family waited 3 years for trial in alleged murder of brother. Now they have to wait another year

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An Ontario family that has waited three years for a trial in the alleged murder of a loved one has just been told they’ll have to wait another year.

The brother and sister of Nathaniel Brettell told CTV News they got word that one lawyer’s scheduling conflict adjourned the trial of Ahmed Al Farkh that was scheduled for April 29, and that the next available date at Toronto Superior Court was in March of 2025.

“My life has been on hold for three years,” Lois Brettell said in an interview. “I’m suffering badly with survivor’s guilt. Now, with another year on top of that, I’m not in a good place.”

Brettell went missing from his Etobicoke rooming house in 2021. Two officers that went looking for him were stabbed and sent to hospital.

Police looking for the 57-year-old eventually turned up his remains at a landfill near London, Ontario.

Charged in the case was 34-year-old Al Farkh, Brettell’s former roommate, who is in custody now. His online writings have described his time in Toronto homeless shelters, referring to the Freemasons and the Illuminati.

Brettell’s brother and sister have waited three years for the trial to start on April 29. The next date, they said, is March 17, 2025.

Farkh’s lawyer, Boris Bytensky, acknowledged the most recent delay was due to his schedule. But he said since the delay was initiated by the defense, there’s no chance the charges will get thrown out for delays.

That’s not the case for several other cases that have been tossed for delays, with judges in Toronto Superior Court decrying a slow federal appointment process for judges that has left vacancies on the bench.

Ontario NDP justice critic Kristyn Wong-Tam said the province has plenty of physical courtrooms, but a major issue is the lack of court staff. She said a recent report had reduced the number of hours each courtroom is used on average each day.

“When we have a court system that’s overstretched and underfunded, these problems are going to persist, and we have record high backlogs,” she said.

“To hear the next available courtroom is a year out is unacceptable,” she said.

The province’s Ministry of the Attorney General didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for federal justice minister Arif Virani said the government has appointed 111 judges to superior courts across Canada in the past 12 months, and said there are new measures to streamline the process.

“All actors in the justice system, and all levels of government, need to work to ensure justice is timely. Our government is doing its part and will continue to do so with urgency,” said spokesperson Chantalle Aubertin.

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