Confidence in the administration of justice shouldn’t be diminished with the release on bail of one of two men charged with murdering a City Cab driver last fall, a judge said on Wednesday.
In granting James Schiller interim judicial release until charges of second-degree murder are tested at trial, Justice Andrew Mahar told court he weighed legal tests and a previous ruling by the Supreme Court clarifying when bail should be granted.
“I do intend to order the release of Mr Schiller today,” Mahar said, as the 49-year-old defendant looked on from inside the prisoner’s box.
Schiller has been behind bars since being arrested, along with his 18-year-old son Elias, in the days after Ahmed Mahamud Ali was pronounced dead four months ago.
Ali was found unconscious in the back seat of his cab outside Stanton Territorial Hospital in the early morning of November 19. He later passed away.
Mahar ordered Schiller and a friend he will be living with to each sign a $5,000 surety.
Schiller will have to reside with his friend, a woman he has known for many years, and have a curfew between 10pm and 5am.
He must present himself at the door if asked to by police, to confirm he is obeying the curfew.
Schiller must seek employment and not leave the NWT, unless for medical treatment if required.
He must report to a bail supervisor as required and surrender his passport, if applicable.
There can be no contact with his co-accused son, who remains in custody.
Hearing in May
Addressing the gallery, the judge reminded everyone of a publication ban he imposed at the first part of the bail proceedings on February 27.
During that two-hour hearing, about 30 people heard evidence for the first time relating to the final moments of Ali’s life.
However, none of the information of the case can be repeated under the publication ban – which exists to protect the Crown’s case and ensure the accused receive a fair trial, said the judge at the time.
These types of bans are common in bail hearings and other pre-trial appearances by accused in criminal proceedings.
What was uncommon in this case was the volume of evidence revealed at the first part of the bail hearing, and the amount of debate it generated between the Crown and defence.
“This is one of the rare times that we, in a significant way, get into the evidence … we would typically not be talking about the evidence to such a degree,” Mahar said on that day.
“It is critically important that none of the evidence heard here today be reported … discussed or published in any way. Publication can be as simple as disclosing the facts [on social media].
“I’m trusting you all … that none of this information make its way outside this courtroom.”
The Schillers are set to appear at a preliminary hearing on May 1.
The death of the beloved cabbie, known as “Uncle Ahmed” to fellow drivers, prompted the city’s taxi industry to push for improved driver safety.