April 2002

Paedophile claims breach of human rights

A CONVICTED child abuser has launched the latest legal challenge under the controversial European Convention on Human Rights, claiming Scotland’s centuries-old trial-by-jury system is flawed.

Lawyers for James Brouillard, who is serving five years in jail for abducting two boys and abusing one of them, claim his human rights were breached because the jury which convicted him did not have to give reasons for the verdicts.

Since ECHR was adopted into Scots law at the time of devolution, many long-standing procedures have been put under the spotlight in the courts to ensure they comply with European human rights legislation.

Convicted criminals who have made a wide range of challenges have been accused of jumping on the ECHR bandwagon. Yesterday it was claimed the latest case illustrated the “blatant misuse” of ECHR.

The majority of cases have ultimately been thrown out, although the initial challenge was successful, leading to the outlawing of temporary sheriffs because they had not enjoyed security of tenure of office and could be removed on the whim of the Lord Advocate.

Lawyers for Brouillard said the jury at his trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court returned verdicts without having to give detailed reasons to explain the basis or gist of the decisions.

In that way, Brouillard, 53, of Middleton Street, Govan, Glasgow, suffered a breach of his human rights under the convention, they argued. “

Article 6 [of the ECHR] has been interpreted as obliging courts to give reasons for their decisions, although this has not required a detailed answer to every question,” it was contended. “

Where juries are used in Europe elsewhere than in the United Kingdom, compliance with Article 6 is met either by the judges retiring with the jury, for example in Belgium and France, or by the jury being given lists of questions to answer, as in Spain, and from these their reasons can be deduced.

The legal and evidential complexities of [Brouillard’s] trial were such that he cannot know the basis of the jury’s decision and cannot know what rights of appeal would be available to him were he armed with such knowledge.”

Brouillard was accused of abducting a youth, 14, by confining him against his will in his car and in his flat in April 2000.

He was also charged with abducting a boy, eight, the following month, and confining him against his will in a flat in Balgair Street, Possilpark, Glasgow.

It was further alleged that Brouillard handled the boy’s private parts. A jury convicted Brouillard of all three charges on majority verdicts.

He had previous convictions for sexual offences and it was suggested in background reports that there was a high risk of him re-offending. He was remitted to the High Court for sentence and jailed for five years.

Many legal observers had predicted an ECHR challenge to criminal juries, which potentially would have far-reaching implications. One source said: “It was always on the cards and the only surprise is that it has taken so long.

But there is a world of difference between a challenge being made and it succeeding, as has been seen in so many of the other cases.”

October 2000

Paedo gets five years

A PAEDOPHILE was jailed for five years yesterday for abducting two boys and sexually assaulting the eight-year-old.

James Brouillard, 51, of Possilpark, Glasgow, was found guilty at the High Court in the city, of the offences in separate incidents in April and May.