'Repugnant behaviour' of former Vancouver cop not enough to overturn pimp's convictions, court rules | CBC News
British Columbia

'Repugnant behaviour' of former Vancouver cop not enough to overturn pimp's convictions, court rules

B.C.’s highest court has rejected two appeals from a notorious Vancouver pimp, ruling that the “repugnant behaviour” of the disgraced former detective who investigated him did not interfere with his right to a fair trial.

Reza Moazami had argued that James Fisher's misconduct interfered with his right to a fair trial

Convicted pimp Reza Moazami has lost his appeals on dozens of convictions related to running an underage prostitution ring and obstruction of justice. (CBC)

B.C.'s highest court has rejected two appeals from a notorious Vancouver pimp, ruling that the "repugnant behaviour" of the disgraced former detective who investigated him did not interfere with his right to a fair trial.

The appeals from Reza Moazami on dozens of charges related to human trafficking and obstruction of justice were dismissed in a pair of unanimous written reasons handed down Wednesday by a panel of three justices in the B.C. Court of Appeal.

In both decisions, Justice Mary Saunders, Justice Elizabeth Bennett and Justice John Hunter had few kind words for former Vancouver police officer James Fisher, who led the investigation into Moazami's underage prostitution ring.

But they said there is no fresh admissible evidence suggesting Fisher interfered with the victims or witnesses in Moazami's trials in a way that would lead to a miscarriage of justice or abuse of process. 

"Despite the repugnant behaviour of Mr. Fisher, there is no possibility that the fairness of the appellant's trial was affected," the justices write in both decisions.

They also rejected Moazami's arguments of ineffective assistance from his defence team during his original trials.

Former VPD detective James Fisher pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation and breach of trust in 2018. (CBC)

Moazami had filed appeals for his 2014 conviction on 30 charges for luring teenagers into prostitution and using sexual assaults and drugs to control them, as well as a 2016 conviction for obstruction of justice. Those convictions earned him prison sentences totalling more than two decades.

Much of his argument in both cases focused on the misconduct of Fisher, who was once a celebrated detective in the Vancouver Police Department's Counter Exploitation Unit.

Fisher pleaded guilty in 2018 to sexual exploitation and breach of trust for kissing a 21-year-old victim in Moazami's case as well as a 17-year-old girl who'd been exploited by another pimp, Michael Bannon. He was sentenced to 20 months in jail.

Moazami's legal team had alleged that Fisher's sexual misconduct was much more extensive, involving nine of 11 victims and two witnesses in the Crown's case against Moazami. 

The defence charged that Fisher had interfered with the young women and girls in other ways as well, including giving them money on multiple occasions and encouraging them to lie in court.

The appeal court's decisions do not make any conclusions about whether those allegations are true.

During the course of Moazami's appeal, the Crown admitted that Fisher abused another two young women connected to Moazami's case. Fisher was originally charged with sexually assaulting both of them, but those charges were stayed when he pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation and breach of trust involving two other victims.

Fisher also faces civil lawsuits from another two young women who allege he sexually abused and emotionally manipulated them during his investigation into Moazami.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay is a B.C. journalist with a focus on the courts, health, science and social justice issues. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.

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