Romeo Phillion

Ontario, Canada
Date of Crime:  August 9, 1967

Romeo Phillion was convicted of the murder of Leopold Roy. Roy, 48, was stabbed to death on Aug. 9, 1967 at the Churchill Court Apartments located at 275 Friel St. in Ottawa. Roy worked for the Ottawa Fire Department and was also superintendent of the apartments. The killer had some claim to have acted in self-defence as Roy had assaulted him merely because his behavior was suspicious.

Roy's wife, who had been cleaning the apartment building, encountered a man in front of Apartment 14. He had his back to her. Mrs. Roy asked the man twice if she could help him. When the man turned toward her, Mrs. Roy, believing he could be a peddler or a prowler, called to her husband in the basement. The man ran past her to the rear staircase of the building and headed downstairs. At the landing between the main and second floors, Roy caught up with the man and shoved him into a corner. After a brief scuffle, the man stabbed Roy once in the heart and fled the scene. Roy died within minutes due to massive blood loss.

During the initial investigation, Phillion was questioned about the murder and told police he was 150 miles away in Trenton, Ontario, having his car repaired on the afternoon Roy was murdered. Police did not question him again. In 1972 Phillion and another man were arrested in connection to robbery charges. After police brought up that he had been questioned about Roy's murder, Phillion told them he would confess to the murder if police let his alleged robbery accomplice go free. Police agreed. However, after Phillion confessed and was arrested for the murder, he claimed his confession was a ruse to get his friend released. He added he could not have committed the murder as he was hours away from Ottawa (in Trenton) when it occurred. Nevertheless his alibi fell on death ears. At trial four prosecution witnesses testified that they saw him in Ottawa on the day of the murder, although none said they saw him commit the crime. Phillion was sentenced to life in prison.

In 1992, after serving 20 years of imprisonment, Phillion became eligible for parole, but did not apply for it as he would not be considered for release without admitting to Roy's murder. In 1998, after Phillion's lawyer and his sister were looking for new evidence of his innocence, Phillion received a large manila envelope in the mail without a return address. It was reportedly sent by his parole officer. In the envelope were police and prosecution documents that were concealed at trial from Phillion's defence. The most important document was a 1968 police confirmation of his alibi by workers at the Trenton gas station where Phillion's car was repaired. There was also additional evidence that the four prosecution witnesses perjured themselves about when the saw Phillion in Ottawa. In 2003, Phillion was released on bail after spending 31 years imprisoned. In Mar 2009, The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned Phillion's conviction and ordered a new trial.  [12/08]


References:  ForejusticeAIDWYC, Wikipedia

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Canadian Cases