The small town of Clinton, Ontario is shocked by the brutal rape/murder of school girl Lynne Harper in June 1959. Clinton is home to a tight-knit military base. The Harper and Truscott families both live on the base and know each other well.
On the evening of June 9, 1959 twelve year old Lynne Harper disappears with her friend 14 year old Steven Truscott apparently being the last known person to see her alive.
Lynne Harper’s body is found June 11, 1959. She has been brutally raped and strangled to death. Steven Truscott is taken into custody and charged the next day with the crime. He is ordered to be tried as an adult.
In September 1959 Truscott’s trial takes place and he is convicted. The judge as required by law at that time sentences him to “to be hanged by the neck until he is dead”. He is still the youngest person in Canada to ever be sentenced to death. Later in 1960 his death sentence is commuted to life in prison. He is 14 years old.
March 24, 1966, Isabel LeBourdais’s book “The Trial of Steven Truscott” is published. This book shocks the Canadian nation with its claims of Truscott’s innocent. An appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1967 is dismissed.
Meanwhile Truscott, who is now in Collins Bay Penitentiary in Kingston, Ontario (one of the toughest maximum security prisons in Canada), is released on parole October 21, 1969. He is 24 years old.
Lawyers from the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted request that the federal minister of justice review his case. The justice minister concludes in October 2004 that “a miscarriage of justice likely occurred”. The Ontario Court of Appeal is ordered to hear his case.
Finally on August 28, 2007 the appeal court releases their decision and acquits him of the murder of Lynne Harper.
Almost 50 years after his youth was taken from him, Truscott receives justice. Unfortunately Lynne Harper has not. Her killer is still at large. The prosecutors in this case rushed to judgment in 1959 and in 2007 still are not admitting wrongdoing. Shame on them. This could have been anyone of us who was railroaded into this conviction. It is sad that the justice system refuses to admit errors and worse still continues with the same mindset.
Mr. Truscott is now 62 years of age. He is married and the father of three children. His family has supported him throughout the ordeal. Steven Truscott is free at last.