Culture clash over Canada killings

THE case alone is gruesome enough. But the pending murder trial of Paul Teale has acquired even greater notoriety - a cross-border culture clash where Canadian customs have seized US newspapers and which pits one country's insistence on freedom of the press against another's belief that a defendant's right to a fair trial must have absolute priority.

Mr Teale, from St Catharines, near Niagara Falls, is accused of kidnapping, sexually abusing and killing two teenage girls in 1991. But he will not be tried until next year at the earliest and until then courts are barring publication of all but the barest details of the case. The ban was imposed by Justice Francis Kovacs of Ontario, just before the trial of Mr Teale's estranged wife, Karla Homolka, last July, when she was convicted of manslaughter in the two deaths and jailed for 12 years.

The public and foreign news media were barred from the court; even Canadian journalists were permitted to report only the verdict and sentencing and to discuss the case not even with friends, but only with their editors.

Although Canadian media are still appealing against the ban, the news black-out has more or less held. Until the last few days, no detail has seeped out of the 25-minute agreeed statement of facts read out at the Homolka proceedings, which the Toronto Globe and Mail, the country's leading paper, called the next day a 'catalogue of depravity and death'.

Reporters and police officers were said to have been in tears at what they heard about the killing of the girls, and how Homolka drugged her own 14- year-old sister for her own and Mr Teale's sexual enjoyment, preserving the scenes on video. Nor are Canadians supposed to know that Homolka received so light a sentence thanks to a plea bargain, under which she agreed to testify against her husband.

Now, however, the dam of secrecy is starting to crumble. For weeks, computer bulletin boards and data networks have spread word. Foreign papers containing greater detail are as prized as samizdats in the old Soviet Union.

An earlier comparison might be with the affair between Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson and the abdication crisis, known around the world but kept from the public in Britain. But then there was no global information village.

Last week the Washington Post published the fullest version so far, pieced together from anonymous sources who had witnessed Homolka's court appearance. The account, describing how one of the teenage victims was kept alive for 13 days before being murdered, was published in the local paper from Buffalo, on the US side of the border.

At the weekend the Niagara regional police seized 187 copies of the edition at the frontier crossing. Sixty-one drivers were arrested or spoken to before being allowed to continue into Canada. More seriously, two Buffalo television stations which are easily received in Canada on Tuesday breached the ban, broadcasting proscribed information for the first time.

In the US a similar news black-out for a criminal case, where national security interests are not involved, is inconceivable. For better or worse, celebrity trials involving the likes of William Kennedy Smith, Mike Tyson, or (as currently) the Menendez brothers in California, are given the full media treatment, regardless of whether prior publicity has reduced a defendant's chances of a fair trial.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
News
people
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star