In December, Steven Neville was found not guilty of second-degree murder and attempted murder, but the Crown still had a chance to appeal the verdict.
On Thursday, however, Neville’s lawyer, Bob Buckingham, said Neville, 27, can now “move ahead with his life” because the limitation period has passed for the Crown to file an appeal.
“This burden is off his shoulders, that’s been on his shoulders since this happened many years ago,” Buckingham said.
He said Neville was concerned the Crown would file an appeal. In fact, Neville called Buckingham’s office earlier this week to see if one had yet been filed, Buckingham said.
"This burden is off his shoulders, that’s been on his shoulders since this happened many years ago."
— Bob Buckingham
The Crown could not be reached for comment by press deadline to explain why an appeal was not filed, but Buckingham speculated as to why.
“Keep in mind that this case has been all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, and sent back for a new trial, and came back to a new trial and there was a not guilty verdict. So, I’m only speculating, but maybe the Crown finally saw the inevitable with respect to this, in that when you have a fair trial, then you get a fair result,” he said.
In December, after a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court trial that lasted nearly 11 weeks, and after almost nine full days of jury deliberations, Neville was acquitted of charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of 19-year-old Doug Flynn and a second man, Ryan Dwyer, in 2010.
"I went through a lot of stress with family members," Neville said after the verdict in December. "I just want to say that I'm relieved that it's over and I'm extremely happy with the verdict today and I'm glad that my innocence has been proven."
The verdict was a long process for families on both sides of the case. Neville was charged and originally convicted of second-degree murder by a jury in 2013, but that conviction was later overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada, which took issue with aspects of the original judge's instructions to the jurors — specifically, his response to a jury question.
"We realize this may be a ridiculous question, but we would like to clarify that the legal definition of ‘to kill’ is the same as ‘to murder,’” the jury asked. The country's high court ruled the judge should have answered the question instead of telling the jurors to review the information he had already provided.
A new trial was ordered and Neville was eventually released on bail, but not before spending 5 ½ years in prison.
“There certainly was a huge relief, and release of stress and pressure, when the verdict came down in December,” Buckingham said on Thursday. “But we had then to go through the appeal period, and so I haven’t spoken with (Neville) today. … I will be in touch with Mr. Neville to let him know it has not been filed.”
Buckingham said this means Neville shouldn’t have to worry about going back to court in relation to this particular litigation, though there is still a chance this may not be the end.
Even though the limitation period has passed, there is still a possibility that the Crown can make an application for leave to file an appeal at a later date, Buckingham said.
Meanwhile, Neville has other charges that are still before the court.
He was back in custody briefly last summer, when he was charged with assaulting a woman, distributing an intimate image of her and breaching his bail conditions in October and December of 2017.
"There's a bunch of nonsense charges before the provincial court that under normal circumstances would not be prosecuted," Buckingham told The Telegram in December. "We'll deal with them in due course and hopefully we'll get rid of them."
With files from Tara Bradbury.