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Top court to hear case of wrongfully imprisoned B.C. man who wants to sue Crown

Ivan Henry smiles as he speaks to the media outside the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010. The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear an appeal from Henry, a British Columbia man who spent 27 years in prison for sexual assaults he did not commit and who wants to sue the Crown for negligence. In 2011, Henry filed civil lawsuits against the provincial and federal attorneys general, the City of Vancouver and three members of its police department. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

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Ivan Henry smiles as he speaks to the media outside the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010. The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear an appeal from Henry, a British Columbia man who spent 27 years in prison for sexual assaults he did not commit and who wants to sue the Crown for negligence. In 2011, Henry filed civil lawsuits against the provincial and federal attorneys general, the City of Vancouver and three members of its police department. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear an appeal from a British Columbia man who wants to sue the Crown for the 27 years he spent in prison for crimes he didn't commit.

Ivan Henry was convicted in 1983 of three counts of rape, two counts of attempted rape and five counts of indecent assault for attacks on eight women in Vancouver. He was also declared a dangerous offender.

He was released on bail in 2009 and acquitted in October 2010 after the B.C. Court of Appeal heard the judge at Henry's original trial made several mistakes. The Crown conceded there was evidence that wasn't disclosed to Henry that would have led to a not-guilty verdict.

Henry's lawyer, Cameron Ward, said the man hasn't been compensated.

"Three different attorneys general of the province have spoken about the provincial government's desire to do the right thing for Mr. Henry but thus far they haven't," Ward said Thursday.

Ward said Henry filed more than 50 court applications from prison in an effort to get the wrongful conviction quashed.

"But nobody listened to him," said Ward. "So he's been through a tremendous ordeal."

In 2011, Henry filed civil lawsuits against the provincial and federal attorneys general, the City of Vancouver and three members of the city's police department.

Henry sought damages for malicious prosecution, abuse of process, misfeasance in public office and an award for charter damages for what he said were serious breaches of the Crown's disclosure obligations.

In April 2013, a judge allowed him to amend his pleadings on the topic of charter damages and include an allegation that the Crown's actions were an unacceptable departure from the reasonable standards expected.

The defendants appealed, arguing Henry shouldn't be allowed to seek compensation for conduct that was negligent, and the B.C. Court of Appeal agreed.

The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to examine the B.C. Court of Appeal decision..

Ward said his client can't work and needs counselling. Neither the federal or provincial government have offered to pay him any money, said Ward.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear the case of a wrongfully convicted man from Quebec who was awarded $5.8 million in compensation by the Quebec Superior Court, only to have the federal government appeal the decision.

Ward said Rejean Hinse's case, which involved a nearly 50-year fight to clear his name, is expected to be heard in the fall and it's possible Henry's case could be heard at the same.

"If, as sometimes is the case, the Supreme Court decides to put Mr. Henry's case together with Mr. Hinse's, that would be in November."

Ward said that would delay Henry's civil trial date by about a year.

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