A legal advocacy group is calling for an independent review of the police investigations into the murder of nine-year-old Christine Jessop.

Innocence Canada says Durham Regional Police and Toronto Police Service have to be held accountable now that a suspect has been named as Christine’s killer.

Toronto police Chief James Ramer said on Oct. 15 that DNA evidence indicated Calvin Hoover, then 28, had sexually assaulted Jessop in 1984 and he would have been charged with her murder if he were alive.

Innocence Canada, which advocates for the wrongly convicted, says invaluable lessons can and must be learned from this 36-year “debacle.”

The group says it hopes a review would provide guidance to future investigations and underline the importance of rigorously sticking to elementary, methodical investigative steps.

In 1985, police arrested and charged Guy Paul Morin, Jessop’s then-24-year-old neighbour. 

Morin was acquitted at his first trial, but convicted of first-degree murder on retrial in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison.

DNA evidence finally exonerated him in 1995, prompting the Ontario government to apologize for his prosecution and pay him $1.25 million in compensation.

Innocence Canada says that as a person within the Jessop family’s social circle, Hoover should have been identified early on as someone deserving police scrutiny. 

The group says the failure to examine Hoover’s alibi for the day of Jessop’s abduction on Oct. 3, 1984, led to decades of “indescribable agony” for her family, Morin, and his family.

A lawyer for Jessop’s family said they learned from police that Hoover killed himself in 2015.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.

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