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'Culture of complacency' delayed Ibrahim Ali murder case: lawyer

A court sketch depicts Ibrahim Ali, who was found guilty in the first-degree murder of a 13-year-old Burnaby girl. (Felicity Don - image credit)
A court sketch depicts Ibrahim Ali, who was found guilty in the first-degree murder of a 13-year-old Burnaby girl. (Felicity Don - image credit)

The lawyer for Ibrahim Ali, the man found guilty of killing a 13-year-old girl in Burnaby, B.C., said a "culture of complacency" from Crown and the court created so many unnecessary delays in proceedings that the verdict should now be stayed.

Kevin McCullough made the arguments on day two of a hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver into a Jordan application filed on behalf of Ali.

A Jordan application seeks to have charges dropped for failing to meet the 30-month time limit to get to trial, as set by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 2016 case R. v. Jordan.

Ali was found guilty of first-degree murder on Dec. 8, 2023. He now faces a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The body of the girl, whose name is under a publication ban, was found in Burnaby's Central Park in July 2017. Ali was arrested and charged about one year later.

McCullough said issues not associated with the accused caused delays of close to 60 months, about double that of the Jordan standard.

He said a decision by Justice Lance Bernard to dismiss an adjournment application brought by Ali's original defence team in August of 2020, coupled with issues of court mismanagement effectively "doomed" the case to exceed Jordan deadlines.

Ali's original counsel withdrew from the case and was replaced by McCullough and his team in September 2020.

"It's not lost on me that I'm asking this court to go back and look at what this court did," said McCullough.

"It's clear that this case is one where the Crown did not take adequate steps to move the matter forward expeditiously; and two, that the court throughout, did not manage the case to move it forward expeditiously, as per Jordan."

Crown counsel is expected to bring arguments against the Jordan application when the hearing resumes on Monday.

Ali entered a plea of not guilty on April 5, 2023, after about three years of pretrial proceedings.

Once at trial, there were several adjournments which caused it to drag out for eight months, including for issues of Ali's mental fitness, problems securing a regular interpreter, the death of an expert witness before she could complete her testimony, illness and COVID-19 among jurors, and threats of violence against Ali's lawyers.