The independent review of the investigation into the death of Samantha Mercer more than a decade ago has concluded.
The three-year old from Truro died March 3, 2005 from a severe head injury. Terry Dean Allen was charged with manslaughter and acquitted in Sept. 2009
Gerard Mitchell, police commissioner for Prince Edward Island and a retired chief justice, released his report today, Sept. 14.
His report concludes that the Truro Police Service did not properly handle the investigation. He also determined police could have improved their communication with the Public Prosecution Service. In the report, Justice Mitchell also confirmed that the Truro Police Service currently has the capacity to conduct major crime investigations.
“My review showed that the investigation was flawed but I cannot say that a better managed case would have produced a different result,” said Justice Mitchell.
Justice Mitchell also found the Justice department’s own internal review of the police investigation, conducted at the family’s request in 2015, should have had been given broader authority under the Police Act to probe deeper into the case.
“I want to thank Justice Mitchell for his review of this case,” said Justice Minister Diana Whalen. “I know there is nothing I can say to lessen the loss the Mercer family is suffering, but I want to assure them that we will accept the recommendations of Justice Mitchell’s report.”
The report recommends the Department of Justice:
–-conduct regular audits of municipal police services, including Truro, to ensure they maintain professional standards
–ensure small municipal police services have ready access to trained support and assistance in investigating major crimes
–in future internal reviews of police investigations, Justice department staff be provided authority under Sec. 7 of the Police Act
–police investigators seek out legal advice from the Crown counsel as soon as practical during a major crime investigation
The full report can be accessed online at:http://novascotia.ca/just/documents/Mercer_Review.pdf .