Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad
Help wanted for Giant Mine bomber

Legal group that defends wrongfully convicted people is in Yellowknife to investigate Roger Warren's case

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 16/02) - On the morning of Sept. 18, 1992, Josie Gould says she sat with Roger and Helen Warren at the Red Apple restaurant on Franklin Avenue drinking coffee.

At 8:45 a.m. the same morning, a bomb exploded on the 750 foot level of Giant Mine that killed nine workers and put Roger Warren into the annals of Canadian labour infamy after he confessed to the bombing a year later.

Warren now sits in a federal penitentiary in Manitoba for a crime he didn't commit, believes Gould.

"If he was responsible (for the bombing) he would have shown some reaction (that morning)," Gould said during a fundraising dinner Wednesday.

The dinner was for the Association in the Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted.

The group helped free Guy Paul Morin and David Milgaard and are now looking into Warren's case as a possible candidate for a wrongful conviction based on a coerced confession.

In a interview Wednesday morning, James Lockyer, lead lawyer with the association, said they only take cases where they are convinced the convicted person is innocent of the crime.

They have never lost, said Lockyer.

It will be around two years before the association comes to any conclusion on Warren's guilt, said Lockyer.

During the $50-a-plate fundraising dinner, Lockyer told the 60 or so Yellowknife residents who attended he needed their support by keeping attention focused on Warren until they decided whether to take the case.

The association was in Yellowknife as part of their preliminary investigation.

Lockyer was the lawyer for Guy Paul Morin, a man convicted of a murder he did not commit. Morin was freed on the work of a community support group and Lockyer.

Kirk Makin, a Globe and Mail reporter, wrote a book on the case challenging the court's decision, triggering the fight for Morin's freedom.

Lee Selleck, currently a CBC television reporter, co-wrote a book questioning the court's decision on Warren.

Francois Maille, a striking Giant Mine worker at the time of the bombing, believes Warren is innocent.

"I have my own theory," said Maille, who believes the nine workers carried explosives in the man-car, causing an accidental explosion.

"I believe (Warren) is innocent," said Maille. "He wanted an end to it," and that is why he confessed.

Warren himself claims to confessing -- after 16 interviews and two lie detector tests -- in order to end the bitter strike.

Lockyer said Warren's confession bears some of the hallmarks of being coerced.

Between 10 to 20 per cent of wrongful conviction cases are the result of coerced confessions, said Lockyer.

Over the past four years the justice systems in Canada, the U.S. and the UK have begun acknowledging the legitimacy of that defence.

But in 1995, the three judge panel of the NWT Court of Appeal rejected the same argument submitted by Warren's lawyers.

Robert Ley, a Simon Fraser University professor who is an expert on false confessions, told Maclean's magazine there were factors in Warren's case that raised the possibility of a false confession.

Ley was not allowed to testify during Warren's court case.

In an interview with Yellowknifer earlier this summer, Warren said severe depression and heart medication were some of the factors that triggered his confession.

"I had to get it over with without causing too much trouble. I was just kind of irrational," said Warren.