The question of supports for people who testify in court has been raised in light of the recent death of a man who testified at the Anne Norris trial.
Kevin O’Brien was with Norris the night Marcel Reardon died and testified she threw what turned out to be a bag containing the murder weapon into the harbour.
His friends indicated that he was anxious about the possibility of having to testify again now that the jury’s verdict of Not Criminally Responsible against Anne Norris has been appealed.
O’Brien’s body was recovered from St. John’s Harbour one week ago.
Kevin O’Shea of the Public Legal Information Association says there are supports for child witnesses, but none for adults.
O’Shea told Paddy Daly on the VOCM Morning Show that witnesses may often feel anxious about the process, including the scrutiny of the court, the media and social media. He says witnesses often have directly observed criminal activity or have information about the crime. They also may have a personal relationship with either the accused or the victim, and may be unfamiliar with the court process which can be quite intimidating.
O’Shea says while Alberta and Saskatchewan have support programs for jury members, he’s not aware of any such programs in the country for witnesses.