In dealing with the defence of provocation, trial judges should not put forward defences to the jury that have no air of reality, said the Supreme Court of Canada in two rulings handed down today.
In R. v. Pappas, the victim had been extorting money from Bill Pappas for 18 months by threatening to tell the Canada Revenue Agency about his offshore investments and threatening to hurt his mother. In an attempt to stop the extortion, Pappas confronted the victim and he replied, “You’re the best cash out I have and I got great [explicit] insurance.” That remark allegedly caused Pappas to snap and so he fatally shot the victim.
In R. v. Cairney, John Cairney shot and killed his friend, who was also the common-law spouse of his cousin, after he overheard him threatening to hurt his cousin. When Cairney pulled a gun on him, the victim said, “What are you going to do, shoot me? You don’t have the guts to shoot me.” Cairney claimed this is what provoked him.