The Court of Appeal has upheld the conviction of a man arrested in a violent 2010 home invasion in Mission that saw the owner of the house shot three times in both legs and struck with a bat.
Kenneth William Chudley was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted in 2011 of using a firearm in a robbery, assault with a bat, break and enter and unlawful confinement.
On Dec. 14, 2010, five men stormed a rural Mission home. The owner of the house tried to fend them off with a spear, but was shot, and hit with a bat. The assailants duct-taped his hands, feet and mouth and demanded the location of money and a safe.
They left with guns, Christmas presents, pot plants and $2,300 plants.
The case against Chudley was largely circumstantial and based mostly on fingerprint evidence.
Upon his conviction, in December of 2011, Chudley fled the Abbotsford courthouse. He was arrested later that day and treated for puncture wounds from a police dog. He later pleaded guilty to escape from lawful custody.
On appeal, Chudley’s lawyer, Lisa Jean Helps argued that the trial judge relied too much on fingerprint evidence. Chudley was not identified by the homeowner who had been attacked, but his fingerprint had been found on a rolled-up wad of duct tape. Police ran the print through a database, which suggested Chudley was a possible match. An officer then verified the match.
The three appeal court justices upheld the conviction last month.
Justice J.A. Newberry wrote that the case was a “close call,” but said it has been established by the courts that “fingerprint evidence with very little else can support a conviction.”
He wrote the trial judge made no errors, and that the appeal court cannot re-try the case.
Chudley has a long criminal history, with previous convictions for crimes such as dangerous driving, trafficking, assault, robbery, possession of counterfeit money and possession of stolen property.
– with files from Vikki Hopes