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Robert Mailman (blue jacket) and Walter Gillespie (white jacket) appear outside of the Saint John Law Courts on Jan. 4, 2024. Image: Brad Perry

N.B. man wrongfully convicted in 1983 murder dies

By Brad Perry Apr 20, 2024 | 5:37 PM

One of two New Brunswick men recently exonerated in a 1983 murder in Saint John has passed away.

Walter Gillespie died on Friday, the co-president of Innocence Canada, which helped to exonerate him, confirmed to our newsroom.

Gillespie and Robert Mailman were sentenced to life in prison without parole eligibility for at least 18 years after being convicted of second-degree murder in the death of George Leeman.

Leeman’s body was found by a jogger in a wooded area of Rockwood Park in Saint John on Nov. 30, 1983.

In December, Canada’s justice minister set aside their convictions and ordered a new trial after “new and significant information” called into question the overall fairness of the process.

Arif Virani said he determined there were reasonable grounds to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred.

Court of King’s Bench Chief Justice Tracey DeWare found the two men not guilty on Jan. 4 after Crown prosecutors advised the court that they would not be presenting any evidence.

“It is most regretful it has taken 40 years for this day to come,” DeWare said following her decision.

In March, the province confirmed that it had reached compensation settlements with Gillespie and Mailman. Details of the settlements remain confidential.