Missing woman’s charges stayed

Criminal charges against a woman who went missing on the Highway of Tears seven years ago have been stayed by the Crown

CRIMINAL CHARGES against a woman who went missing on the Highway of Tears seven years ago have been stayed by the Crown.

Three assault charges and a failure to appear breach were stayed against Tamara Chipman by Crown prosecutor Paul Kirk Nov. 13.

All the charges were from 2004 except for one assault charge, which was from 2005.

Chipman went missing while hitchhiking from Prince Rupert back to Terrace in September 2005.

Neil MacKenzie, communications counsel for the Criminal Justice Branch of the provincial government, said Crown Counsel periodically reviews files that have been open but inactive for an extended time to determine whether the charge assessment standard for continuing a prosecution is still met.

“Where the reviewing prosecutor concludes that the standard is not met, then a stay of proceedings is directed. That is what occurred in this case,” he said by email Nov. 16.

“Branch policy sets out that for a case to proceed, Crown must be satisfied that the available evidence provides a substantial likelihood of conviction, and if so, that a prosecution is required in the public interest.”

Prosecutors know that Chipman is missing, however, the decision to stay proceedings was based on the charge assessment standard, including an analysis of currently available evidence and consideration of whether continuing a prosecution was required in the public interest, he said.

“Crown concluded that the charge assessment standard for proceeding is no longer met,” he said. There is no fixed schedule for case reviews to take place and there’s no specific amount of time that passes before prosecutors decide to stay charges, he added.

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