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Ontario’s Chief Justice grants Wright’s leave to appeal bail decision

‘We will be working … to schedule that review as soon as possible,’ says lawyer representing accused in 1998 stabbing death of Renée Sweeney
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Murder suspect Robert Steven Wright.

Robert Steven Wright may have another shot at bail after he was denied for a third time in January.

Associate Chief Justice of Ontario J. Michal Fairburne granted Wright’s leave to appeal. The reasons for the decision are covered by a publication ban.

Wright’s lawyer, Michael Lacy, confirmed the leave to appeal, and said “that the Associate Chief Justice found that by ordering a review, she had to be satisfied that there was an arguable basis to conclude that a three-member panel of the court might review the bail and come to a different conclusion on the issue of bail. 

“We will be working with the Court and the appeal Crown to schedule that review as soon as possible.”

On Jan. 17, Superior Court Justice Patrick Boucher dismissed Wright’s bail application, stating any material change in circumstances, as filed by Wright and his counsel, wasn’t sufficient.

The reasons are again covered by a publication ban.

There is a publication ban in effect, so none of the evidence can be made public in this case.

Wright, who is now 42 years old, is charged with second-degree murder in the 1998 stabbing death of Renée Sweeney. He has been in custody since he was arrested in December 2018.

Wright was scheduled to start his second-degree murder trial in May of last year, but it was delayed due to concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It was then scheduled to start in October, but it was postponed when Wright hired a new lawyer, Lacy, who needed time to catch up on the case. His former counsel, Berk Keaney, declared a conflict of interest in the case, leading to the search for new counsel.

Wright then contracted COVID-19 during the outbreak at the Sudbury Jail. He was hospitalized as a result, and has since recovered.

A new tentative trial date has been scheduled for September 2022. Pretrial dates have also been set for the week of March 21 and April 25.