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Supreme Court rejects Sean Kelly's appeal of conviction for making indecent phone calls


Published on September 6, 2017

Sean Kelly is seen in the Corner Brook courtroom in this file photo.

©Star file photo

Disgraced police officer Sean Joseph Kelly of Corner Brook went to jail Wednesday morning, but he may not be there for long.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer has been suspended without pay since he was charged with having made indecent phone calls to a woman in October 2012 and subsequently making false statements to divert the focus of the investigation into his actions to an innocent man.

Kelly was found guilty by Judge Wayne Gorman at trial in provincial court and was sentenced in April 2015 to serve 10 months in prison and 12 months of probation. However, he immediately appealed both the conviction and sentencing and has been free while awaiting the outcome of the appeal.

Justice David Hurley of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’s trial division heard the appeal in September 2016, but only released his written decision on the matter this week. While agreeing the trial judge may have made some errors, Hurley upheld both the conviction and sentencing rendered by Gorman.

Hurley agreed with the defence that some similar-fact evidence heard during the trial, along with oral and written statements from Kelly, should not have been admitted at trial. However, Hurley ruled that the remaining evidence was so overwhelming that convictions would still have been inevitable and a new trial is not warranted.

Kelly’s lawyer, Robby Ash, would not comment on the merits of Hurley’s decision. Ash said he was going to be reviewing the decision with his client and they will decide within a day or two if they will be filing an appeal of Hurley’s decision with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Court of Appeal.

Ash confirmed Kelly had turned himself into police to be taken into custody Wednesday morning, since his conviction and sentencing are now in effect. If there is to be an appeal, Ash said he will immediately be filing an application for Kelly to be released from custody, pending the outcome of the new appeal.

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At trial, Kelly had argued that he had loaned his police-issued cellphone to an informant he was cultivating the day the indecent calls were made.

Hurley ruled there is no doubt the two phone calls made to the woman in October 2012 originated from Kelly’s cellphone and that implicating the innocent person was a way for Kelly to buy time to shift the blame to that person.

“The evidence put forward at trial, including Mr. Kelly’s obvious lies, is consistent with his guilt and with no other conclusion,” wrote Hurley in his decision on the appeal of the conviction.

In appealing the sentence, Kelly had argued that house arrest would have been an appropriate sentence. Hurley, however, sided with Gorman’s ruling to deny Kelly a conditional sentence.

Gorman had said the crimes were planned, deliberate and, considering they were committed while Kelly was on active duty, constituted a massive breach of the public trust placed in him.

Gorman also noted the drastic impact the two offences had on both the woman, who felt she was being stalked and who has since moved away from Corner Brook, and the innocent man, who said he has since been targeted as a pervert and a police informant.

Kelly still has an outstanding indecent phone calls charge against him in provincial court in Corner Brook. That matter was called Tuesday, but was set over until Sept. 19, pending the outcome of Hurley’s decision.