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Updated: Tue, 05 Aug 2014 23:02:12 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Nelson Hart, accused of killing twin daughters, quietly released from custody



Nelson Hart was convicted of murder in 2007, based largely on evidence collected through an elaborate RCMP sting. CBC

Nelson Hart was convicted of murder in 2007, based largely on evidence collected through an elaborate RCMP sting. CBC

Nelson Hart, the Newfoundland man at the centre of the Mr. Big sting decision in Canada's top court last week, won't face a new murder trial.

Crown prosecutors in Gander announced Tuesday that they will not seek another murder trial for Hart, who was convicted in 2007 of drowning his three-year-old twin daughters Karen and Krista in Gander Lake 12 years ago.

The jury's verdict was overturned on appeal.

Supreme Court Justice David Peddle granted the Crown's request to withdraw murder charges against Hart due to insufficient evidence.

Hart was not present in the Gander court to hear the decision.

The 45-year-old was released Tuesday after spending more than nine years in custody.

Robby Ash, one of the lawyers who represent Hart, said his client is pleased with the decision.

Hart's lawyers weren't surprised by Tuesday's ruling. Ash said they were expecting it, given the Supreme Court of Canada's decision that a confession from Hart was inadmissible. Hart's past and current lawyers have said that the confession is the only evidence the Crown has against him.

"The [Supreme Court of Canada] was very clear that Mr. Big operations are designed to induce confessions in unreliable circumstances. We can't prosecute people with evidence like that," said Ash.

"You have to look at the tactics employed by the RCMP, or whatever police force employs the technique, but also the nature of the target, and in this case you had the perfect storm. You had Mr. Hart, who was an extremely vulnerable target, and you had extremely oppressive psychological manipulation done by the police in this case."

'Time to heal'

When asked about whether there was a case for a wrongful prosecution suit, Ash said they wouldn't be speaking publicly yet but would be discussing the matter with Hart in the near future.

Ash said it will be a difficult process for Hart to reintegrate back into society, but there is a plan in place to help him adjust after almost a decade behind bars.

"Mr. Hart has been affected psychologically in a tremendous fashion as a result of the sting and as a result of his prolonged incarceration, which included, by the way, long periods of solitary confinement, as well. He's had various difficulties inside, he's been in various prisons across the country — he's going to need some time to heal," he said.

"It's going to be a challenge. Mr. Hart had little at the outset of this, and today he has even less, so he's going to need support from various community organizations, perhaps."

Hart was transferred to a lockup in Corner Brook following the Supreme Court's ruling.

Hart's former wife, Jennifer Hicks, was in the courtroom for Tuesday's decision, which came just one day after the anniversary of the deaths of their twin daughters.

Crown prosecutor Donovan Molloy, director of public prosecutions, told reporters it was a clearly upsetting case for Hicks.

"[Hicks] is brokenhearted, understandably. She's just a normal person, she doesn't understand the operation of the justice system and its complexities in the Supreme Court of Canada. She's lost her daughters," said Molloy.

He wouldn't comment on whether or not he thought Hart would face other charges.

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