The accused in a brazen South Surrey shooting will skip preliminary hearings and be tried in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
Brody Paterson’s first-degree murder trial in connection with the killing of Craig Widdifield in 2013 will continue by way of direct indictment, resulting in a stay of proceedings last week in Surrey Provincial Court, Crown spokesperson Neil MacKenzie confirmed Tuesday.
Paterson’s next appearance is slated for March 26.
MacKenzie would not disclose the reasons the choice was made to proceed by direct indictment, citing the ongoing court proceedings. But he acknowledged the step is not taken often.
“The use of direct indictments by Crown in B.C. is becoming somewhat more frequent, but it does still remain a small proportion of the total files handled by the branch each year,” MacKenzie told Peace Arch News by email.
According to Criminal Justice Branch policy, the use of direct indictment is reserved for very serious cases and allows the Crown, with the written consent of the attorney general’s office, to bring the case directly to Supreme Court without a preliminary inquiry – which is typically held to determine if there is enough evidence to take a case to trial.
Proceeding by direct indictment will generally be appropriate when it is determined to be in the public interest, according to the policy.
Factors considered include when there is significant danger of harm – either psychological or physical – to victims or witnesses, to protect the identity of an informant, logistical problems, courtroom security and when an expedited trial is necessary.
Other high-profile cases in Canada where direct indictment has been used include that of notorious serial killer Paul Bernardo.
Widdifield, 28, was gunned down in what police described as a targeted shooting on April 24, 2013, in the 15700-block of Croydon Drive, at approximately 7 p.m.
Multiple 911 calls were made after shots rang out. Widdifield’s body was found in a parking lot, near a toy store and coffee shop, by a walkway leading to the Steve Nash Sports Club and overhead condominiums.
At the time, police told media that Widdifield was known to police “for this lifestyle.”
Shortly after Widdifield’s death, RCMP recovered a Jeep Cherokee. At a news conference with Surrey RCMP last October, Integrated Homicide Investigation Team Asst. Supt. Dwayne McDonald said “valuable evidence” recovered from the vehicle helped lead to Paterson’s arrest.
While police also indicated at that time that further arrests were imminent, no other charges have been filed in connection with Widdifield’s death.