Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

May 19, 2006 11:51 ET

Charge Against Former JTF 2 Soldier Withdrawn

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 19, 2006) - Captain (Navy) Holly MacDougall, the Canadian Forces Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP), has withdrawn the charge of desertion, an offence under section 88 of the National Defence Act, against former Sergeant Montgomery Paisley. Sgt. Paisley was the member of Joint Task Force 2 (JTF 2) who left his unit in July of 2003 and was absent until he turned himself in at the Canadian embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, in April of 2005.

The DMP decision to withdraw the charge was based on a consideration of the public interest, which balanced the nature of the offence and the public interest in prosecuting the charge against recently-provided evidence that the accused suffered at the time of the offence (and continues to suffer) from a major depressive disorder. Had the matter proceeded to court martial, the central issue would have been the mental health of the accused and his level of criminal responsibility.

After a review of materials provided by Sgt. Paisley's defence counsel, including psychological test results and opinions, and having further consulted with other mental health professionals in respect of those materials, the DMP decided that the public interest does not require prosecution of this matter and that Sgt Paisley's conduct may adequately be addressed through administrative processes and within the medical domain.

Military prosecutors consider two main issues when deciding whether to prosecute a charge at court martial: whether the evidence is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction; and whether the public interest requires a prosecution be pursued. They continually reassess these issues as new information about the case and the accused becomes available.

The CF National Investigation Service charged Sgt. Paisley with the National Defence Act offences of desertion, absence without leave and stealing on April 15, 2005, after escorting him back to Canada from Thailand. Following review by a military prosecutor, DMP determined that he should be tried by a court martial on a single count of desertion.

Notes to editors:

The DMP policy on post charge screening including a section entitled, The Public Interest Criteria, is at: http://www.forces.gc.ca/jag/military_justice/cmps/policy_and_directives/policy3_e.asp.

The Canadian Mental Health Association web site (http://www.cmha.ca/) has a section entitled Understanding Mental Illness, which may be helpful for reporters assigned to this story.

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