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Attempted murder charges stayed against Botting's client

published April 12, 2016

The B.C. Supreme Court has stayed charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and robbery against a client of British Columbia criminal lawyer Gary Botting on day three of a scheduled three-week trial following the defence lawyer’s vigorous cross-examination of the first 12 of an expected 35 witnesses, reports the Vancouver Province in a syndicated news story.

Botting represents Gregory Wayne Hiles, who was accused in a case concerning an unpaid drug debt in Chilliwack, says the newspaper. The victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban, and her husband owed about $3,000 to a Surrey drug dealer in 2009. The woman, who sold drugs to support her addiction, collected all but $700 or $800 by calling in debts that were owed to her on Dec. 23, 2009. That afternoon, the woman was robbed of the money she collected and beaten with a blunt object. She was left with a brain injury, says the article, which also appeared in the Ottawa Citizen.

The Crown said at the outset of the proceedings that its case against Hiles was circumstantial, the Province reported.

Botting cross-examined a drug dealer, J., who exchanged texts with A.A. on the day of the attack, threatening her with violence and worse if she didn’t pay up.

“I was there to scare her to get my money together,” J. told Botting. “I’m not a big-time drug dealer like you are trying to make me out to be.”

Botting pointed out that J. had been writing threatening text messaging to A.A. all that day.

“That’s how the drug game works,” J. said.

Following cross-examination of the drug dealer to whom the victim owed the money, the prosecutor announced the Crown did not have enough evidence to convict Hiles and stayed the charges against him. Hiles, 36, was released from custody that afternoon.

Botting says his client is relieved.

“He tends to keep a bit of a poker face. He has to under these circumstances, because your emotions are all over the place,” Botting told the Vancouver newspaper after the court appearance. “He was quite vocal about his having the case against him stayed.”

The witnesses who were called to testify in the first two days of the trial did not implicate Hiles directly; in fact, a number of them could have been considered suspects themselves, Botting says in the article.

“I think the fact that he had a previous similar incident on his record may have been overly persuasive to the police and the Crown in deciding to proceed on these charge in the first place,” Botting says.

In 2000, Hiles was convicted of manslaughter and received a 10-year sentence for killing a man with a baseball bat in Nova Scotia. Facing the new charges in B.C., he was branded a “killer” in news headlines by the local press from the outset.

Hiles was arrested on Nov. 12, 2014 – nearly five years after the incident – and he was held at the Surrey Pre-Trial Centre, mostly in segregation because of the implication that he stole money from gang members, reports the Chilliwack Times.

“The police put my life in danger by trying to involve me, saying I ripped off these gang members. I never ripped off these gang members,” says Hiles.

He says his detention kept him apart from his wife and two children and he says the ordeal was also difficult because the victim was his friend.

“I was choked up when I had to plead not guilty,” he says. “I was holding back tears. . . and now [the victim] is in a position that basically her life is ruined.”

The victim remembers nothing from the incident.

“I have to put the pieces of my shattered life back together,” Hiles says. “It’s over. A new battle is going to be beginning a year from now when I file a lawsuit against the RCMP for what they’ve done to me and my family.

“That’s how life is, you’ve got to be accountable for your actions. They’ve got to be accountable just like they hold everyone else accountable for the laws they break.”

The Crown has a year to reinstate the charges, says the article.