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Citation: R. v. George-Nurse, 2019 SCC 12, [2019] 1 S.C.R. 570


Appeal Heard: February 15, 2019

Judgment Rendered: February 15, 2019

Docket: 38217



Devante George-Nurse





Her Majesty The Queen



- and -


Criminal Lawyers’ Association




Coram: Abella, Moldaver, Karakatsanis, Côté and Rowe JJ.



Reasons for Judgment:

(paras. 1 to 4)

Moldaver J. (Abella, Karakatsanis, Côté, and Rowe JJ. concurring)






R. v. George-Nurse, 2019 SCC 12, [2019] 1 S.C.R. 570

Devante George-Nurse                                                                                   Appellant


Her Majesty The Queen                                                                              Respondent


Criminal Lawyers’ Association                                                                    Intervener

Indexed as: R. v. George-Nurse

2019 SCC 12

File No.: 38217.

2019: February 15.

Present: Abella, Moldaver, Karakatsanis, Côté and Rowe JJ.

on appeal from the court of appeal for ontario

                    Criminal law — Appeals — Unreasonable verdict — Circumstantial evidence — Accused not testifying at trial and convicted by jury — Evidence at trial establishing strong case to answer — Court of Appeal entitled to consider accused’s silence in assessing reasonableness of verdicts as indicative of absence of exculpatory explanation or innocent inference — Trial judge’s instructions to jury clear that accused’s silence could not be used against him — Convictions upheld.

Cases Cited

                    Referred to: R. v. Noble, [1997] 1 S.C.R. 874.

                    APPEAL from a judgment of the Ontario Court of Appeal (MacPherson, Hourigan and Miller JJ.A.), 2018 ONCA 515, 362 C.C.C. (3d) 76, 47 C.R. (7th) 175, [2018] O.J. No. 3013 (QL), 2018 CarswellOnt 8833 (WL Can.), affirming the convictions of the accused for intentionally discharging a firearm while being reckless as to the life or safety of another person and occupying a motor vehicle while knowing there was a firearm in the vehicle. Appeal dismissed.


                    Brian Snell, for the appellant.


                    Leslie Paine, for the respondent.


                    Michael Dineen, for the intervener.


                    The judgment of the Court was delivered orally by


[1]               Moldaver J. — We agree with the majority of the Court of Appeal that the circumstantial evidence presented against the appellant established a strong case to answer. In the words of the majority, which we accept, this was the “paradigm of a case to meet, far removed from ‘no case to answer’”: para. 34.


[2]               That being so, it was open to the court on appeal to consider the appellant’s silence in assessing and ultimately rejecting his unreasonable verdict argument: see R. v. Noble, [1997] 1 S.C.R. 874, at para. 103.


[3]               In so concluding, we note that the trial judge made it clear to the jury, on numerous occasions, that it could not consider the appellant’s failure to testify as a makeweight for the Crown’s case. In this regard, we do not endorse paras. 32 and 36 of the majority’s reasons, to the extent they may be taken as suggesting otherwise.


[4]               In the result, we would dismiss the appeal.


                    Judgment accordingly.


                    Solicitor for the appellant: Brian Snell, Toronto.


                    Solicitor for the respondent: Attorney General of Ontario, Toronto.


                    Solicitor for the intervener: Michael Dineen, Toronto.

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