VANCOUVER — The father of a murdered 13-year-old girl may continue listening in remotely to post-trial proceedings, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge ruled, rejecting an application by the convicted killer's lawyers who said they feared for their safety.
The girl was found dead in a Metro Vancouver park in 2017, and a jury found Ibrahim Ali guilty of her first-degree murder last December.
Ali's trial lawyers, Kevin McCullough and Ben Lynskey, have been refusing to attend post-trial hearings, citing safety concerns over an allegation the girl's father brought a loaded gun to the Vancouver courtroom on the day of the verdict.
They instead sent their colleague, Tim Russell, to argue their application to exclude the man. The lawyers said his presence, even virtually, would be distracting and intimidating to the point it would compromise their ability to defend their client.
But Justice Lance Bernard denied their application on Friday.
The father hasn't been charged in the alleged gun incident, although Bernard said he is aware of "an outstanding police investigation" into the matter.
The judge said the man was arrested and released with orders not to attend court in person, not to contact Ali or his lawyers, and not to possess any firearms.
Those conditions — along with the move to a secure courtroom equipped with bulletproof glass — strike the right balance between safety and the father's interest in following the proceedings, Bernard said in his reasons for the ruling.
The father has been following the proceedings remotely through a Mandarin-English interpreter, Bernard said. The interpreter listens and simultaneously translates for the man by telephone, he said.
"This form of access does not afford (the man) any role or voice in the proceedings," Bernard said.
Brock Martland, who represented the victim's father, had told the court that his client didn't bring a gun to court on Dec. 8, the day of the verdict.
Court documents show the man is set to appear at Surrey provincial court later this month in relation to the disposal of items police seized from him the following day.
The father can't be named because of a publication ban on the identity of his daughter, whose body was found in a park in Burnaby, B.C.
Ali appeared by video on Friday. He has yet to be sentenced in the case, but he faces a mandatory life term with no chance of parole for 25 years.
The judge also tried to set a date to hear arguments over a so-called "Jordan application" by Ali's lawyers, seeking a stay of proceedings on the basis of unreasonable delays in the case. If granted, Ali would go free without sentencing.
Bernard said he had been "determined" to deal with the application in March.
But the court heard that a transcription company estimated it would take 12 to 14 weeks to provide documentation that defence and Crown lawyers said they need.
The defence team is responsible for ordering the transcripts in support of their application, while prosecutor Isobel Keeley said the Crown lawyers also want to ensure they have access to the full record related to the application.
The Crown had been careful to identify specific time periods during certain days of the proceedings in order to "narrow" the material they want transcribed, she said.
Keeley told Bernard that she had seen the form the defence lawyers submitted to the transcription company, and it appeared they had selected whole days — a request that would significantly add to the time required to complete the work.
Russell suggested the defence lawyers could re-do the form to see whether a revised request would affect the estimated timeline for transcription.
The judge adjourned the proceedings until Monday, asking the lawyers to return with "some answers" in relation to the request for transcripts and the timeline.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2024.
Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press