Man accused of threatening father of Rehtaeh Parsons has charges withdrawn

HALIFAX — Charges were withdrawn against a Nova Scotia man who pleaded not guilty to threatening the life of Rehtaeh Parsons’s father online after the Crown determined there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him.

Attorney Eric Taylor said in Dartmouth provincial court Tuesday that he reached an agreement with the defence to dismiss charges of uttering threats and criminal harassment that were laid last year following complaints by Glen Canning.

Canning alleged earlier that the charges related to online threats made against him in 2013 on a YouTube site.

But, Taylor said a finding of guilt was unlikely even though there was material of a threatening nature.

“There were threats that were posted on a YouTube account against the complainant — that evil would befall the complainant and his family,” Taylor said outside court.

“There was some suspicion, but obviously not enough for a conviction.”

Canning did not respond to a request for comment.

Taylor said police can use an IP address to locate the computer that’s posting messages, but can’t determine who is at the keyboard writing them.

“Although sometimes police can link postings like this to a residence, they can’t go in the residence at that time and find out who’s behind the computer,” he said.

“The evidence in this case suggests there were multiple users in that home on those computers.”

The defence lawyer did not comment as he left court, but Taylor said the young man provided a statement indicating he was not responsible for the posts.

Taylor said the material included threats against Canning’s life, adding that the accused knew where Canning lived, worked and what type of car he drove.

The judge placed him on a one-year peace bond that restricts him from having any contact with Canning or the Parsons family, and from going near Canning’s residence. 

The young man accused of the offences cannot be named because he was a minor when he and another teenager were convicted of making and distributing child pornography involving Parsons, who died after attempting suicide in 2013.

Parsons’s family alleged she was sexually assaulted in November 2011 and bullied for months after a digital photo of the alleged assault was passed around her school.

A 20-year-old man pleaded guilty last November to distributing a sexually graphic image of Parsons, who was 15 years old at the time of the offence.

Another 20-year-old man pleaded guilty to making child pornography by taking a photo of the accused having sex with Parsons, who was taken off life-support after she hanged herself at her home.

Both men were youths at the time of the offence and were charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The child pornography charges were laid after Parsons died.

Follow @alison_auld on Twitter

Alison Auld, The Canadian Press

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