EDITORIAL: The weight of justice delayed

Years-long wait takes toll

The pace of justice is often criticized, and news this week of another delay in proceedings against the mother of a South Surrey girl killed 2½ years ago makes it easier to understand why.

In December 2014, the body of eight-year-old South Surrey girl Teagan Batstone was found in the trunk of a car, in a cul-de-sac in the 13900-block of 35A Avenue, just off of Crescent Road.

Police were swift to arrest a woman at the scene – Teagan’s mom, Lisa Deanne Batstone – in connection with the discovery, and equally swift to confirm a charge of second-degree murder against the then-41-year-old mother.

The charge was announced less than 24 hours after Teagan was found, and within a matter of weeks, Batstone was deemed fit to stand trial.

But while proceedings initially moved along at what could be described as a reasonable pace, few, if any, would agree that is the case now.

Last week, for the second time, Batstone’s murder trial was delayed.

The first delay was confirmed in December 2016 – nearly two years after Teagan was killed, and six months after the proceedings had been set for June of this year.

That adjournment moved the trial back by three months, to September 2017, and was attributed to a change of counsel for Batstone – fair enough. All accused, no matter how difficult it is to fathom the crime they are accused of, deserve the most effective and prepared representation.

The latest delay, however, set things back a full year, until September 2018.

The reason the delay was granted isn’t clear. There were objections; Crown counsel was not in favour.

What is clear is that now, answers that Teagan’s family and friends have been waiting for, including how she died, are still a long way off.

And whatever peace a trial has potential to offer – including for Batstone’s family – is even further away. The proceedings themselves are expected to take four weeks, and decisions are rarely made immediately after.

It’s difficult to see the justice in that.

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