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Evidence - Child Witnesses

. Paddy-Cannon v. Canada (Attorney General)

In Paddy-Cannon v. Canada (Attorney General) (Ont CA, 2022) the Court of Appeal considered the treatment of evidence of children (at the time of the events):
[33] It is undisputed that when adult witnesses testify about events that occurred when they were children, in general their evidence should be assessed by the criteria applicable to adult witnesses: W. (R.), at p. 134. However, inconsistencies and lack of memory in that testimony must be considered in the context of the age of the witness at the time of the events: W. (R.), at p. 134; see also R. v. Pindus, 2018 ONCA 55, at para. 37; R. v. Radcliffe, 2017 ONCA 176, 347 C.C.C. (3d) 3, at para. 34, leave to appeal refused, [2017] S.C.C.A. No. 274. ....
. R. v. J.J.

In R. v. J.J. (Ont CA, 2021) the Court of Appeal considered the treatment of evidence from young persons:
[16] Moreover, in addressing the frailties in the complainant’s testimony, the trial judge properly took into account that the complainant was only 15 at the time of the sexual assault and 17 when she testified at trial. He considered the Supreme Court’s guidance for dealing with young witnesses in R. v. B. (G.), 1990 CanLII 7308 (SCC), [1990] 2 S.C.R. 30, R. v. W. (R.), 1992 CanLII 56 (SCC), [1992] 2 S.C.R. 122, and R. v. François, 1994 CanLII 52 (SCC), [1994] 2 S.C.R. 827. While age played a role in his credibility and reliability analysis, the trial judge found that the difficulties with the complainant’s evidence were a function of her shyness, immaturity, lack of education, strict religious upbringing in an unsupportive family, and feelings of embarrassment, rather than her age alone. He concluded that these issues did not fatally undermine the complainant’s evidence.
. R. v. Pindus

In R. v. Pindus (Ont CA, 2018) the Court of Appeal stated an important point about the evidence of witnesses who were children when the events occured, but adults when they testified:
[34] C.R. was 25 when she testified about the events that occurred when she was 14 and 15 years old. Nonetheless the trial judge was obligated to assess her evidence according to her age when she testified, not her age when the events she was testifying about it occurred. In other words, the principle is the following: when adult witnesses testify about events that occurred when they were a child, their evidence should be assessed by the criteria applicable to adult witnesses, not by the somewhat relaxed criteria applicable to child witnesses. See: Kendall v. R, 1967 CanLII 79 (SCC), [1967] S.C.R. 469, at pp. 473-474; and R. v. A.M., 2014 ONCA 769, 123 O.R. (3d) 536, at paras. 11 and 25.


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