Two men who were convicted of 14 crimes by a Surrey provincial court judge following robberies in Surrey, Langley and Maple Ridge will get new trials after the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decided the lower court judge had erred in his analysis.
“In this case, the judge made a number of legal errors, materially misapprehended evidence, and failed to given sufficient reasons,” Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein decided, with Justices Daphne Smith and Richard Goepel concurring.
The accused, Andrew James Aikman and Jayson Franklin, had been convicted in Surrey provincial court for crimes committed in August 2014.
“The key issue at trial was identification. Some of the offences were captured on poor quality video surveillance. The evidence implicating Mr. Franklin and Mr. Aikman was largely circumstantial,” Stromberg-Stein noted.
The court heard that on Aug. 9, 2014 Franklin was captured on surveillance video at an Esso station in Surrey redeeming and buying lottery tickets.
He was wearing a red ball cap, black runners with white and grey markings and carrying a green canvas bag.
A white Ford F350 with B.C. plates, last seen in Langley at about 10 p.m. that day, was recorded on the toll camera crossing Golden Ears Bridge towards Maple Ridge at 1:12 a.m. the following morning, and a truck matching its description was caught on video surveillance pulling up to a Chevron station in Maple Ridge at 2:32 a.m.
The video surveillance showed two masked men breaking the glass on the gas station’s front doors.
They took cash, lottery tickets and cigarettes. One of the robbers, armed with a wrench, was subsequently identified as Franklin wearing a red ball cap and skull mask.
The Crown alleged Aikman was his accomplice.
Later that morning the Ford was seen on surveillance video at a Petro-Canada station in Surrey and Franklin, identified as the driver, checked 27 scratch-and-win lottery tickets, 23 of which had been shipped to the Chevron that was robbed.
On Aug. 12 a red Escalade was reported stolen in Surrey. That same day two men broke into a Shell station and made off with roughly 40 cartons of smokes. Within the hour, two men robbed a Mac’s convenience store in Surrey of cigarettes, a cash register and a large safe.
One man had a wrench, like in the Chevron robbery.
The court heard the stolen Escalade was later found, containing the stolen safe, cigarettes and a tire iron for a Ford.
The white Ford was also found. In both vehicles, Stromberg-Stein noted, there was no DNA or fingerprints suitable for analysis.
Stromberg-Stein wrote in her Sept. 6 reasons for judgment that Franklin at trial “essentially” conceded the Crown had proven he was guilty in the Chevron robbery, the face-masking count related to that, and possession of the white Ford F50. But he successfully appealed his other convictions
The appeal court ordered a new trial for Franklin on the remaining counts and a new trial for Aikman on all counts.