Non-profit calls for independent review of police action in Christine Jessop case
TORONTO -- A non-profit organization that represents people who say they have been wrongfully accused of a crime is calling for an independent review of police action surrounding the 36-year murder investigation of nine-year-old Christine Jessop.
"Specifically we're looking to hold police agencies accountable, including the Durham police and Toronto police," Bhavan Sodhi, a lawyer with Innocence Canada, said.
Christine Jessop was sexually assaulted and murdered in October of 1984. In the years that followed, Guy Paul Morin was wrongfully convicted. Morin was exonerated by DNA evidence in 1995.
An inquiry was held in 1997, but not for the purpose of laying blame on any person or organization.
Earlier this month, police revealed that semen found on the child’s underwear had been matched to Toronto resident Calvin Hoover. They now say they believe he was responsible for Christine Jessop’s death.
Hoover died in 2015.
Christine Jessop’s brother says he supports an inquiry, but would prefer that they hold police accountable.
"This time, let’s actually call it what it was, it was police misconduct," Ken Jessop said. "I say go into it deeper and let the cards fall where they may."
“You know we had some answers during the inquiry but now if they want to give a definitive of who did what, I'm 100 per cent behind it."
Hoover has been a friend of the Jessop family in Queensville at the time of the murder. It wasn't until Oct. 15 of this year that they learned of his involvement with the murder.
Sodhi says that we need to know more about why it took so long for police to focus in on Hoover.
"Here's a span of 36 years where we don't know much about what much of Calvin Hoovers activity was during that period," she said.
"I think it isn't until we have a fulsome inquiry as the type that Innocence Canada is currently requesting that we'll know the extent of the harm that has resulted from a lack of police action."
Durham police said that they do not plan on reviewing the case because the lead investigator and other close investigators are all deceased.
Last week Toronto police set up a tip line in hopes of tracing Hoover’s steps between 1984 and 2015.
In a statement, the service said that they “understand the position put forth by Innocence Canada.”
“Should an independent third party review of the original TPS investigation be ordered, we will cooperate to the fullest extent the law allows. In the meantime, we will continue to actively investigate this case.”
Also in a statement, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General said “it would be premature to consider a public inquiry.”
“We are pleased that new information identified by our policing partners, as well as Ontario’s Centre for Forensic Science, led to closure for the Jessop family,” the statement read.
“Public inquiries are usually established when there is no other effective mechanism to examine an issue. For these reasons, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”