Rankin man to get new trial
Court of appeal rules judge erred at Thatcher trial

by Ian Elliot
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 26/97) - A former Rankin Inlet man convicted of shooting his business partner in the leg in 1995 is getting a new trial.

Ronald Richard Thatcher had his aggravated assault conviction overturned by an NWT Court Of Appeal decision earlier this month.

Justices Howard Irving, Ted Richard, and Virginia Schuler decided in a 2-1 majority decision Nov. 3 that Territorial court judge Michel Bourassa had erred at the original trial and a new trial should take place.

Thatcher was sentenced to 16 months at his trial in February after being found guilty of shooting his 22-year-old partner in a drywall business, Adrien Vaneindehoven, just below the knee with a shotgun in a drunken brawl at his house.

Evidence at the trial revealed the two men had fought just days before the shooting and both expected another confrontation.

Thatcher pleaded self-defence at the trial, saying that the other man had just thrown a 14-kilogram toolbox at his head.

The Court of Appeal ruled that Bourassa did not give sufficient weight to Thatcher's argument that it was self-defence that caused him to shoot his partner, and that he did not appear to consider the thrown toolbox to be a weapon.

Bourassa noted that during the two assaults on Thatcher over the two days, Vaneindehoven had not used a weapon.

The Court of Appeal said the judge was wrong if he didn't consider the toolbox a weapon.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Ted Richard found that the misapprehended evidence was "founded largely in semantics" and that, "In my view, these misstatements are inconsequential and none of them...amount to an error of law or a miscarriage of justice."