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robert mailman and walter gillespie


Walter Gillespie

This afternoon Robert (Bobby) Mailman and Walter (Wally) Gillespie were acquitted by Chief Justice Tracey DeWare of the King’s Bench Court in Saint John, New Brunswick, 40 years after they were wrongly convicted in the murder of George Leeman.

On November 30, 1983, Mr. Leeman’s body was found by a jogger in a wooded area in Rockwood Park, Saint John. Mr. Leeman was the victim of a significant beating, and his body was partially burned. Mr. Leeman was living in Saint John in a rooming house when he was murdered.

Between January 19 and 21, 1984, the Saint John Police Service charged Wally Gillespie and Bobby Mailman with the murder.

Mr. Gillespie and Mr. Mailman both had strong alibis with multiple witnesses placing them kilometers from the crime scene on the day of the murder. Nevertheless, they were convicted of the murder on May 11, 1984. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment without parole eligibility for at least 18 years. They have never wavered in insisting on their innocence.

Mr. Mailman who served 18 years in prison, sadly, is terminally ill. He is 76 years of age. He also lives in Saint John. Mr. Gillespie served 21 years of his life sentence in prison and is presently living in a halfway house in Saint John. He is now 80 years of age.

Today the two men appeared before the Chief Justice accompanied by Innocence Canada lawyers Jerome Kennedy, James Lockyer, and Pamela Zbarsky. They heard the Crown, Karen Lee, advise the Chief Justice that they had no evidence to present to the Court and invited the Court to acquit them both. The Chief Justice acquitted them and expressed her regret that it had taken 40 years for this to happen. She also promised that she would deliver a more substantial judgment tomorrow afternoon which would address the experiences endured by Mr. Mailman and Mr. Gillespie as a result of their 40 years of imprisonment and parole.

After the acquittals, Mr. Kennedy said:

For 40 years, these men have maintained their innocence. It’s a big day for both men. I have been working on their case for six years and they have never faltered in their determination to have their wrongful convictions quashed. At last, they have been vindicated.

Co-Counsel Mr. Lockyer said:

The New Brunswick justice system failed these men. There needs to be an accounting when such an injustice occurs. This was a case where the Saint John Police and Prosecution failed to give information that was known to them to the two men which had it been known could have stopped the prosecution in its tracks. We look forward to what the Chief Justice will say tomorrow.

For further information, contact:

Jerome Kennedy at 709-725-2966 or
James Lockyer at 416-518-7983 or
Ron Dalton at 709-327-6864 or

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