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Delays dogged Langley manslaughter case’s progress through courts

Change of lawyers held up case by a full year
BC Supreme Court in New Westminster. (Black Press Media files)

It should have been a simple, open-and-shut matter for the B.C. courts: a 20-year-old Langley man arrested at the scene of a fatal stabbing immediately confessed to the crime to police.

But despite an eyewitness to the fatal attack and an immediate confession to police investigators, it would take two and a half years before Jacob Cook was sentenced in November, 2023 for the May 30, 2021 manslaughter of his brother Jesse.

Jacob Cook was charged with second degree murder on May 31, the day after the attack, said Daniel McLaughlin, spokesperson for the B.C. Prosecution Service.

Despite two confessions to police, Cook did not immediately enter a plea in the case – there were several adjournments, which McLaughlin said were mostly at the request of the defense. He pleaded not guilty on Sept. 21, 2021, almost four months after the crime.

Cook also requested a trial by both judge and jury. A jury trial adds an extra step to the process, with several days for jury selection.

However, this case would not get that far.

After a preliminary inquiry, on March 24, 2022, dates were set for pre-trial matters and the actual trial date was scheduled for Nov. 14, 2022.

Just before that trial could take place, Cook and his defence lawyer parted ways.

The need for a new lawyer to be found and brought up to speed meant the trial was adjourned, and the earliest possible date following that was Nov. 15, 2023.

However, McLaughlin said that extensive resolution discussions took place between Crown and defence, and an agreement was reached to have Cook plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter by the end of the summer of 2023. Cook entered the guilty plea officially on Aug. 14.

Pre-sentencing reports took up much of the fall, and Justice Paul Riley finally passed sentence on Nov. 24 this year, handing down a 10-year sentence.

Because time spent in pre-trial custody counts as “time and a half,” and Cook has already spent almost two and a half years behind bars as the process went on, his remaining sentence is six years, three months.

“This time frame is within the limits of 30 months set by the Supreme Court of Canada for concluding criminal matters tried in the Superior Court,” McLaughlin said. “But for the delay caused by the change in counsel matters could have been concluded even sooner.”

READ MORE: Langley man sentenced for deadly stabbing of brother

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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