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New trial ordered in B.C. stalking case

A file photo shows a statue inside the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, B.C. A file photo shows a statue inside the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, B.C.

B.C.'s highest court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted of multiple crimes related to the alleged stalking and harassment of the same woman.

Yakup Cetin was originally charged with 16 offences. He pleaded guilty to one count of uttering a threat to cause death and five counts of breaching the conditions of his release. The Crown stayed one charge of prowling at night and one count of mischief.

A 2022 trial found him guilty of one count of criminal harassment, one count of attempted break-and-enter to commit an indictable offence and three breaches of his conditions of release. He was found not guilty of two counts of arson and one count of breaching a condition of his release.

The lower court decision said Cetin met the victim when he was working as a maintenance contractor at her building and became "obsessed" with her. The judge also described Cetin's alleged breaches of no-contact conditions as both "serial" and "brazen."

On appeal, Cetin argued the convictions should be overturned because he was denied his right to be tried by jury. The court heard that Cetin elected to be tried by judge alone at his first appearance in May of 2022, when he was represented by a lawyer.

"He successively discharged several lawyers as the trial date approached," the decision says, adding that Cetin ultimately decided to represent himself and informed the court of his intention via a letter.

"My trial must convert to jury trial. Unfortunately I don’t have any hope for justice from Canadian judges," the decision quotes the letter as saying.

When Cetin raised the issue on Dec. 5, 2022, at a pre-trial conference he was told by a judge a jury trial would not be allowed unless Crown consented because the request was being made fewer than 60 days before trial. Crown did not consent and Cetin stood trial by judge alone.

The letter, however, was filed with the court 62 days before the trial was set to start, according to the decision, which notes that Crown acknowledged this fact on appeal.

"The Crown agrees that the judge’s failure to allow a re-election was an error of law, and that it deprived the appellant of his statutory and constitutional right to trial by jury. The Crown also concedes that the error was prejudicial to the appellant and amounts to a miscarriage of justice as that phrase has been interpreted in the case law," the decision says.

The convictions at trial were set aside and a new trial was ordered. The guilty pleas and acquittals, however, "must stand," the decision says.

Cetin was sentenced to a total of 66 months in prison for the crimes he pleaded guilty to and those he was convicted of, and given 30 months of credit for time served.

The victim told the lower court that she had been profoundly affected by Cetin's actions.

"Her overall sense of safety, security and well-being has been shaken immensely. She now feels violated, fearful, unsafe, vulnerable and fears for her life," the sentencing decision says, referring to the impact statement submitted to the court. Top Stories

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