A lady doctor from the New Brunswick province of Canada, charged with trafficking in prescription drugs, escapes conviction as evidence against her is accidentally destroyed.
She had been also been charged with conspiracy to commit arson, threatening to commit bodily harm.
But Thursday Justice Peter Glennie of the Saint John Court of Queen's Bench found Dr. Corrina Golding, 42,† not guilty on all three charges.
It had been revealed during the hearings that police documents vital to the case had been accidentally destroyed and interviews not properly recorded.
Golding was charged in July 2006. She was accused of hiring a patient to burn her leased Mazda MPV van and paying him with a prescription for the painkiller Percocet.
"We made the determination at this point it's in the best interest of justice to have this matter resolved in this fashion," Bill Wister, co-ordinator of specialized prosecution told CBC News outside the courthouse.
"I think it's a question of looking at documents that could've been preserved that perhaps weren't preserved. So there's issues of lost evidence; there's issues ... with how evidence is preserved," Wister said.
The proper documentation not being available meant that Golding's defence couldn't get a fair chance to argue against that evidence, Wister said.
"I've never had a case where there's been problems with the investigation to the extent of the problems here," said Golding's lawyer, Brian Munro. "Certain pieces of evidence that should never have been overlooked or not secured ... that's what we're dealing with here."
Golding, however, has pleaded guilty to a new charge of obstruction of justice, admitting she talked to witnesses about their testimony leading up to her trial. She will be sentenced on Feb. 26 and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Golding is also facing two charges related to failing to comply with an order to not have contact with a witness in her care. The trial date is set for March 25 in the Hampton provincial court.
Golding's licence has been suspended since September 2006, when the three initial charges were laid.
Golding told CBC News she is hopeful of returning to her job. "I hope that my children and I get some peace, and yes, I hope to return back to work."
Nelson Wesley Getson, 19, has pleaded guilty to burning her vehicle and breaching an order to have no contact with her. He told investigators that he had a relationship with the doctor, but Golding denies that he's her ex-boyfriend.
Getson told police Golding gave him a prescription for Percocet in exchange for his burning her vehicle. He also said she gave him a couple of prescriptions to sell on the street, according to court documents.
In a videotaped statement last year Golding ex-husband, Paul Cook, told police that Golding had left him a voice mail message in the fall of 2005, asking him to sign a document so their two daughters, for whom they had a shared custody agreement, could obtain passports.
He didn't return the call because he checked with the passport office and discovered the children's passports were valid until June 2007.
He assumed Golding had misplaced the originals, he said.
But she never called him back about it and he didn't think about it again, the documents state.
On July 28, 2006, Cook checked his voice mail messages and found two from Golding, he told police. The first one was left the day before, simply asking him to call her. Her tone was "civil," he said.
In the message left on July 28, however, Golding's voice and attitude were "angry and irate," according to Cook. She said their eldest daughter needed a passport for school. "Since you obviously won't call me back, I will see you in court," she said.
Cook told police he didn't call Golding back because he knew the children had valid passports and "because he considered her a flight risk to take off with the children and he would prefer that she not have a passport for the children."
Two days later, Golding's 2005 Mazda MPV van was destroyed by fire in the driveway of her home at 57 Park Dr. in Rothesay.
When Golding was questioned by police on Aug. 1, she was asked whether she could think of anyone who might be responsible for the fire. She said: "I left a message on Paul's cell and home phone and told him the girls need a passport. We can do this the easy way or go to court. And a couple of days later, this happens."
"Based on the above, I have reasonable grounds to believe that Golding phoned her ex-husband on the 27th and 28th of July 2006, for the purpose of diverting suspicion for the upcoming fire onto (him)," the affidavit filed by Senior Constable Craig MacDougall of the Rothesay Regional Police Force's major crime unit states. "Golding created the confrontation with her ex-husband to create a motive to accuse Paul Cook of burning her van."
The investigation started after Getson's mother, Carol Getson, wrote a letter of complaint to the medical board, according to the court documents.
Getson, who was one of Golding's patients, told police that she took him to a lawyer to get him to swear to an affidavit that he was not in a sexual relationship with her. But after speaking to the lawyer and reading the preamble of the affidavit, which warns about perjury, he decided not to sign because the contents were "a lie," according to the documents.
Golding "freaked out" when he told her he didn't sign and threatened to "set him up" by calling police and reporting that he was breaching a court order to have no contact with her, the documents state.
The next day, "under threat" from Golding, Getson said he agreed to go with her to another lawyer and signed the affidavit.
Golding denies Getson was her boyfriend. She has claimed not to know him very well and that he was just a patient of hers.
"These affidavits are believed to contain evidence that will contradict earlier statements made by Golding in relation to this investigation as well as shed further light on the nature and depth of the relationship between Golding and Getson," wrote MacDougall.
"The content of the letter sent to the medical board by Carol Getson will (also) provide evidence of Corrina Golding's motives for making threats of bodily harm to Carol Getson."