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robert mailman and walter gillespie


Jun 14, 2023

Bernard Doyle Exonerated After 27 Years

bernard doyle exonerated at trial

On Monday, June 12th, 27 years after his wrongful conviction on manslaughter, Bernard Doyle finally heard the news that he had been praying and hoping from when the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned his conviction and ordered an acquittal. It is a true exoneration for him.

On August 16, 1996, Tyler Cunningham, his girlfriend’s 17-month-old son, died in Kitchener, Ontario as a result of a tragic accident. Mr. Doyle, then 22 years old, was dancing with Tyler in his arms when he tripped over his roofing tools and fell forwards onto the floor. The back of Tyler’s head struck the hard edges of the tools, and he was fatally wounded. Sadly, Tyler died the following day.

Two pathologists, one of whom was the now discredited Dr. Charles Smith, testified that Tyler could not have died in the manner Mr. Doyle described Instead, he opined, Mr. Doyle must have shaken Tyler violently and, at the same time, struck him several times on the head. On the basis of this evidence, Mr. Doyle was convicted by a jury in Kitchener of manslaughter and sentenced to 4 years in the penitentiary. He served his full sentence.

Innocence Canada became involved in Mr. Doyle’s case in 2013. We obtained expert reports from a forensic pathologist, a forensic neuropathologist and a forensic biomechanical engineer who all certified that Mr. Doyle’s original account fully explained all of Tyler’s injuries. The Crown retained its own pathologist, Dr. Michael Pollanen, the Chief Pathologist for the Province of Ontario, who agreed with Innocence Canada’s experts.

On June 12th, the Court of Appeal heard the new expert evidence, agreed it was decisive of Mr. Doyle’s innocence and entered an acquittal.

For the first time in almost three decades, Mr. Doyle a proud Newfoundlander can hold his head high. Mr. Doyle said after his acquittal, “I am very relieved and grateful for what happened today. The justice system has worked for me at last. But I will never forget Tyler. He was a wonderful boy who had lots of promise. I couldn’t help thinking that he was there with me today.”