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Edward Downey guilty of murdering Calgary girl, 5, and her mother





A Calgary jury has convicted Edward Downey of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter, Taliyah Marsman.

The mother and daughter were killed on July 11, 2016. 

The Crown argued Baillie was killed because Downey, 48, blamed her for his deteriorating relationship with his girlfriend and that Taliyah was murdered because she likely would have been able to identify him as her mother’s killer. 

Baillie and Taliyah both died by asphyxiation in July 2016. (Facebook)

Following the three-week trial, it took the sequestered jury less than three hours to make their deliberations.

Clapping, cheering and crying from the victims’ family and friends was heard as the verdict was read.

Downey looked straight ahead as the verdict was read and showed no emotion.

Following the verdict, 11 of the 12 jurors recommended Downey face a consecutive 50-year parole ineligibility, with one juror making no recommendation.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Beth Hughes thanked the jurors for serving their community, and family members of the victims shouted “thank you” and clapped as they left the courtroom.

‘Sara died trying to help her friend’

Baillie’s mother, Janet Fredette, read an emotional statement following the verdict.

She thanked the press for giving the family privacy throughout the trial, police for their work on the investigation, victim services for their support, and Crown prosecutors for the verdict.

“It has been a long two-and-a-half years to get to this moment in time,” Fredette said, with her family standing behind her.

Janet Fredette, Sara Baillie’s mother and Taliyah Marsman’s grandmother, said the family is happy with the outcome of the trial that found Edward Downey guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

“We are most pleased with the outcome of the trial and we are sure justice will be served… Now I can go home and bury Sara and Taliyah’s ashes and let them rest in peace. 

“Our hope is that in time, and little by little, this powerful love we feel for the girls will gradually take up more and more space in our minds each and every day, that pictures and songs of the happier times will settle on us and drive out the darkness that has become part of our daily lives for the most recent past.”

Fredette said the result is proof the system works.

“Sara died trying to help her friend out of a bad situation. She is a hero,” she said.

“Sara’s death ensures no other individual will be harmed by Mr. Downey.”

Prosecution’s theory

The judge had instructed the jury to make a decision on a “rational and fair consideration of all the evidence.”

According to the prosecution, Downey hated Baillie because she had influenced her best friend — a woman who can only be identified as AB — who was dating Downey at the time. AB had refused to work as an escort for Downey, who has a history of pimping out his girlfriends.

Their relationship had deteriorated and one day before the killings AB texted Downey telling him to pack his bags.

Text messages from Downey to his then-girlfriend in the month before the deaths showed he disliked Baillie, calling her “disrespectful” and expressing anger that AB was spending time with her.

Prosecutor Carla MacPhail told jurors the Crown’s theory is Downey showed up at Baillie’s apartment on that morning and killed her by wrapping her face in duct tape and then strangling her. He then stuffed her body in a laundry hamper.​

Baillie’s body was discovered hours later in her daughter’s bedroom closet. Two of Downey’s fingerprints were on the duct tape wrapped around her face, neck and wrists, according to evidence presented during the trial.

But Downey testified in his own defence, and while he admitted to being in Baillie’s apartment on the morning of the killings, he told defence lawyer Gavin Wolch he was there with acquaintances to make a drug deal. Downey said he knew one of the men as Terrance but couldn’t remember the name of the other.

‘Patently absurd’

While in the apartment, Downey said, Baillie put her daughter in a bedroom and then got into an argument with Terrance in another room. When Terrance called out for duct tape, the unnamed friend threw him the roll and he ripped off a piece, he testified. When he handed it to Terrance, Baillie didn’t say a word, according to Downey. 

He left the two men in the apartment, drove home and then returned to find the pair outside waiting for him, he testified. 

The Crown told jurors Downey invented the two men and called his version of events “patently absurd.”

Evidence from Downey’s cellphone put him at Baillie’s home during the time period when she was killed and in the rural area near where Taliyah’s body was recovered later that same day.

Downey said he was to meet Terrance and the other man at a northeast location but then decided to keep driving east instead, which is how he explained his cellphone pinging off towers near where the child’s body was dumped.

All the while, Downey was text messaging with a new love interest. MacPhail suggested that when their conversation ceased for five minutes it was because Downey was dumping Taliyah’s body in a stand of bushes.

Emotions boiling over

Family members of the victims, including Taliyah’s father, Colin Marsman, packed into the courtroom every day to bear witness to the difficult evidence, often unable to hold in their horror, sometimes gasping and sobbing as gruesome details were revealed.

Downey’s mother has also been in the gallery throughout the trial. She was late returning to the courtroom to hear the verdict, entering shortly after it was announced.

The judge and sheriff warned those in the courtroom to be respectful as emotions boiled over following the verdict, with one person telling Downey, “you’ll rot in there.”

A first-degree murder conviction comes with an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. 

His sentencing date will be set on Jan. 15, and victim impact statements will be heard during sentencing.


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Dreessen: Ottawa has to shed its image as a town that doesn’t like fun





Ottawa has long held a reputation as a place that fun forgot. People who live here know that there is a lot to love about the city: its history, the Rideau Canal, proximity to parks and rivers, excellent clubs, museums and galleries all make Ottawa a great place.

More spontaneous fun things are harder to come by. We’ve created a process that makes it hard for small businesses to thrive and where the process is more important than the outcome.

In 2016, a local artist planned to give away free T-shirts celebrating Ottawa 2017 on Sparks Street, until the local Business Improvement Association (BIA) asked him to move, squashing a fun event to bring people together.

In 2017, business proposals to the NCC executive committee made a business case to open cafés at Remic Rapids, Confederation Park and Patterson Creek. In the summer of 2020, two opened; the Patterson Creek location, opposed by neighbours, has yet to see the light of day, though the NCC website indicates it may happen in 2021.

In each case, the cafés are only open for a few brief summer months. Despite the fact that Ottawa celebrates itself as a winter city, we can’t, somehow, imagine how people might want to enjoy a café in the spring or fall, or during winter months while skiing along the river or skating along the canal. Keeping public washrooms open, serving takeout and, yes, using patio heaters, could make these cafés fun additions to our city for most of the year.

More recently, Jerk on Wheels, a food truck with excellent Caribbean chicken and two locations, has run intro trouble. The one on Merivale Road continues, but the Bank Street location in Old Ottawa South has to close. According to social media posts from the owners, despite the business having all permissions in place, local restaurant franchises of Dairy Queen and Tim Hortons have objected to its presence.

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Ottawa businesses frustrated with slower pace of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen plan compared to other provinces





OTTAWA — As Canada plots its roadmap to reopening, each province is choosing their own path to reopen the economy and lift the COVID-19 restrictions.

Some are moving towards loosened restrictions at a faster pace than Ontario, which is frustrating for business owners who say they are ready to receive customers safely.

Patio season is upon the city, and at Banditos Restaurant on Bank Street, owner Matt Loudon is staging the large outdoor dining area to prepare for the summer rush. But the patio will have to remain closed until at least June 14, when it is expected Ontario will move into Step One of the three-step Roadmap to Reopen plan

“I hope they push it up a little bit,” says Loudon. “It’s beyond frustrating all the other provinces are opening up before us, we’ve been locked down longer than anybody else.”

Loudon, who owns two restaurants, says their outdoor seating has always been safe and that they have invested in added measures like sanitization stations and personal protective equipment for the staff. Indoor dining will continue to remain off limits in Ontario until Step Three. When patios do open, tables will be limited to four people. 

Unlike British Columbia’s four-pronged approach that began May 25. Residents in the province are now allowed to dine both inside and out, with a maximum of six per table, not restricted to one household.

Quebec will enter into its first step Friday, where outdoor dining will be available for two adults and their children, who can be from separate addresses per table. This applies to red and orange zones in the province. The curfew will also be lifted. 

In Gatineau, hair salons opened their doors to customers last week. Ten minutes away at Salon Bliss in Ottawa, all owner Sarah Cross can do is hope she can reopen sometime in July.

“Most people think that government funding covers all the bills but it’s far from it,” says Cross. Her upscale salon has nine chairs and over the course of the pandemic, in order to comply with regulations and keep staff and patrons, safe, only three chairs can now be filled. She says the hardest part is that the rules constantly change and vary in each region, adding it doesn’t make sense how one is better than the other.

“Our livelihood is dependent on what the decisions are made and if they were aligned with one belief system then I think they would have the trust of the public to follow these protocols.”

Many Ontario business owners say it’s not only a matter of necessity they open, but can do so safely. Infectious disease physician Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti agrees, and says the province needs to expedite its timeline.

“Especially with the fact that we are in the post vaccine era,” says Chakrabarti.

“It’s important for us to remember that we have been following this case count very closely for the last year and certainly we’ve had some experiences with opening things, especially with the second and third waves we have to remember that as we go forward now vaccines are a huge difference maker to the situation. Cases may go up but that doesn’t mean the most important thing will go up which is hospitalizations.”

Chakrabarti says while people will still get infected with COVID-19, with the reduced risk of hospitalization in large numbers there is no reason to restrict the community. He says while it’s not time for packed stadiums, it’s also not time for lockdowns and Ontario should re-think its strategy.

“We have to faith in the vaccines. We have seen in the other parts of the world like Israel, the U.K.,and the U.S. our neighbours to the south,” says Chakrabarti. “They are very safe and effective and our ticket out of this pandemic. We really should be taking that.”

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$2.9 million tax break for Ottawa Porsche dealership receives the green ligh





OTTAWA — Ottawa city council has given the green light to a $2.9 million tax break for a new Porsche dealership in Vanier.

Council voted 15 to 9 to approve a grant under the Community Improvement Plan initiative to build a Porsche dealership at the corner of Montreal Road and St. Laurent Boulevard.  The project by Mrak Holdings Inc., a.k.a. Mark Motors of Ottawa, would be built at 458 Montreal Road.

Under the Community Improvement Plan approved by Council, business owners can apply for a grant equal to 75 per cent of the municipal tax increase attributable to the redevelopment. A report says the goal of the Montreal Road Community Improvement Plan is to “stimulate business investment, urban renewal and property upgrades in the area.”

Coun. Catherine McKenney was one of nine councillors who opposed the tax break for the Porsche dealership.

“I agree with the Community Improvement Plan, but I know and what people see here is that this application does not meet the criteria,” said McKenney about the CIP proposal for the Porsche dealership.

“A car dealership, no matter whether it’s Honda, or a Porsche or a Volkswagen, it does not first off belong on a traditional main street. This does not the meet the criteria of a CIP, it will do nothing for urban renewal.”

Approximately 70 people gathered at the site of the proposed Porsche dealership Tuesday evening to oppose the tax grant.

Coun. Diane Deans told Council she doubted any councillors who supported the Community Improvement Plan when it was developed in 2019 thought it would support a luxury car dealership.

“I don’t think it fits. I don’t think a clear case has been made that this incentive is required for the Mark Motors project to move forward at all,” said Deans. “I don’t believe there’s a clear community benefit.”

Coun. Riley Brockington, Deans, Jeff Leiper, Carol Anne Meehan, Rick Chiarelli, Theresa Kavanagh, Keith Egli, McKenney and Shawn Menard voted against the tax break for the Porsche dealership.

“It will lead to a $17 million investment on Montreal Road, it will create about 20 jobs in that neigthborhood,” said Mayor Jim Watson.

Watson noted auto dealerships were not excluded from the Community Improvement Plan when approved by committee and Council.

A motion introduced by Watson was approved to use property tax revenue generated by the redevelopment for affordable housing.

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