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BC Prosecution Service’s reply to Vancouver Rape Relief open letter regrading Chilliwack femicide

July 28, 2022

A Message from the BC Prosecution Service – 630620

Dear Hilla Kerner:

Your email July 25, 2022, addressed to the Attorney General, RCMP, and others, has been forwarded to the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) for response.  The BCPS is responsible for the conduct and supervision of criminal prosecutions and appeals in British Columbia.

Your email expresses concern regarding the release of Eric John Shestalo on bail while awaiting trial.  A judge released Mr. Shestalo after a bail hearing at which Crown Counsel made submissions in favour of release on appropriate protective conditions.  Crown Counsel’s position at the bail hearing was consistent with the BCPS policy on bail, the governing legislation under the Criminal Code, and binding case law interpreting that legislation

Under our system of law, accused persons, even those facing serious charges, have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.  This principle is fundamental to the right, guaranteed under s. 11(e) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause.

Furthermore, Parliament has directed the courts to exercise a “principle of restraint” in bail hearings and give primary consideration to the release of the accused at the earliest reasonable opportunity.  The conditions imposed on the accused must be the least onerous that are appropriate in the circumstances and be reasonably practicable (Criminal Code, s 493.1). 

Crown Counsel are bound to follow and apply the law and are also governed in their positions respecting bail by the Crown Counsel policy manual, which states that as “ministers of justice” Crown Counsel must exercise principled restraint in all bail matters.

For most offences, an accused person can be detained in custody pending trial only if the Crown can satisfy the Court that detention is necessary to secure the accused’s attendance in court, ensure the protection or safety of the public, or maintain confidence in the administration of justice, pursuant to s. 515(10) of the Criminal Code.  In most circumstances, Crown Counsel bear the burden of proof to show that an accused should be detained.

An accused can be released on conditions that are intended to protect the public including terms that allow for close monitoring through bail supervisors, police or a private person known as a surety.  Judges presiding at bail hearings are required to consider the safety of the public, including any victim or witness to the offence, when making release orders.  The form of bail used in a particular case will depend on the nature of the offence the accused is alleged to have committed, the background of the accused, and the risk the accused would present if released. 

The legal requirements dictated by Parliament and contained in the Criminal Code are reflected in the policies of the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS).  These policies specifically refer to the need for principled restraint in all bail matters.  The BCPS policy Bail – Adults is publicly available here:

Bail provisions under the Criminal Code are the responsibility of the federal Department of Justice and may only be amended by the federal government.  If you are of the view that the Criminal Code provisions related to these matters require amendment, you may wish to share your views with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada who is responsible for proposing such amendments to Parliament.  Minister Lametti may be reached at:

The Honourable David Lametti, PC, QC, MP

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

House of Commons

Ottawa ON K1A 0A6


We acknowledge and understand your very significant concerns about the facts of this case.  Crown Counsel are required to make sometimes difficult discretionary decisions about bail and in doing so they must operate within the rule of law, and protect the integrity of the criminal justice system.  As stated in the BCPS Bail – Adults policy:

The decision whether to oppose or consent to bail, and on what terms, requires Crown Counsel to consider and weigh the competing interests of the accused, the public, and victims.  Crown Counsel cannot predict the future actions of the accused with certainty, and thus cannot eliminate all risks.  This is inevitable in a justice system based on the presumption of innocence, in which every accused person has a fundamental right to reasonable bail.

We hope this information assists. Thank you for writing.


BC Prosecution Service

Ministry of Attorney General


Read Also

Chilliwack police and crown believed the victim. The perpetrator was charged. Why wasn’t he kept in custody until his trial? Why was he given the freedom to kill the women?

By Hilla Kerner
July 25, 2022

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