Articles

My Fight To Free Paul Cachia

When he saw 19-year-old Paul Cachia led away to the cells, this Toronto newspaperman began to wonder if there was one law for the rich and another for the poor. For two frustrating years he probed and prodded until at last the law reversed its verdict. Here is his disturbing story

FRED THOMPSON June 1 1954
Articles

My Fight To Free Paul Cachia

When he saw 19-year-old Paul Cachia led away to the cells, this Toronto newspaperman began to wonder if there was one law for the rich and another for the poor. For two frustrating years he probed and prodded until at last the law reversed its verdict. Here is his disturbing story

FRED THOMPSON June 1 1954

My Fight To Free Paul Cachia

FRED THOMPSON

When he saw 19-year-old Paul Cachia led away to the cells, this Toronto newspaperman began to wonder if there was one law for the rich and another for the poor. For two frustrating years he probed and prodded until at last the law reversed its verdict. Here is his disturbing story

THE FIRST time I saw Paul Cachia, a thin dark boy of nineteen, was on Dec. 12, 1951. He was in the prisoner’s dock of No. 1 courtroom at Toronto City Hall awaiting a jury’s verdict on a charge of robbery. The twelve men filed into the big shabby room and the clerk of the court recited the archaically worded question, “How say you, is the accused Paul Cachia guilty of the offense whereof he stands indicted or is he not guilty?”

“Guilty,” said the foreman.

Cachia’s face paled. He gripped the rail of the dock and screamed, “I’m going to get the hell out. I’m not guilty.”

But he didn’t move. And the court officials seemed scarcely to notice the outburst as they proceeded with that incongruous anti-climax which comes between verdict and sentence—the polling of the jury, the submissions of crown and defense concerning sentence, the prisoner’s opportunity to say his last formal word.

Then Judge Robert Forsyth said, “These hold ups are becoming altogether too frequent in Toronto; in fact, there is a regular epidemic of them going on at the present time, especially people with guns, and something has to be done to stop it. Well, I will send you to the penitentiary for four years.”

A girl stood up in the body of the court and cried out,

“So this is what you call justice!” It was Cachia’s sister, Rita.

After Cachia’s lawyer had shushed Rita, Judge Forsyth turned to the jury. “I think you have been very wise in the conclusion you have come to,” he said. “You were quite justified in doing so.”

Paul Cachia, weeping, was led from the court.

In January of this year, after Cachia had been in custody for 28 months, at the conclusion of the sixth separate hearing of the charge that he had taken part in the armed robbery of a service station, the same judge was to pass judgment on Cachia, standing in the same dock. This time Judge Forsyth said, “There is no doubt now in my mind that the accused is not guilty.”

And for the first time since Sept. 27, 1951, Paul Cachia was free—acquitted at last of a crime he didn’t commit.

In September 1951, a few minutes after he had been arrested, Paul Cachia had told certain facts to the officers taking him to police headquarters. Those were precisely the facts which, in January 1954 were to win him a verdict of not guilty. But Cachia had spent the years in between in the cells and prison hospitals of the dingy Don Jail, the Ontario Industrial Farm at Burwash and Portsmouth Penitentiary in Kingston.

What happened to Paul Cachia could, I believe, happen to any Canadian who shared Cachia’s drawbacks: little money, no influence, an inability to express himself clearly because of skimpy education and physical defects and, above all, a background of petty crime.

Neither Cachia nor his parents could afford a highly experienced lawyer. When Cachia was arrested, his father went to a lawyer he knew, Reginald McLean. They had met on the CNR trains where the elder Cachia was a chef and McLean, a Negro, was working his way through law school as a sleeping-car porter. During the year McLean represented Cachia, through a preliminary hearing, a jury trial and an unsuccessful appeal, he received $275 in dribs and drabs. At that fee the lawyer could scarcely afford the time-consuming and expensive process of tracking down and rounding up all the witnesses who could have supported the defense alibi.

At his second jury trial, Cachia was represented by a young lawyer recently called to the bar, appointed to the defense under Ontario’s free legal-aid plan. It was not until more than two years after his arrest, on the fifth occasion the Cachia case was before the courts —and after some people had come to take an interest in his misfort unes -that Cachia received top-bracket, defense. Arthur Martin, one of Canada’s leading criminal lawyers, who would have charged up to $1500 if he had been retained by Cachia in the ordinary course of events, finally took the case without charge, and won Cachia his freedom.

Among the witnesses not put on the stand at Cachia’s first trial was one Marina Morris, a girl who was to flit like a will-o’-the-wisp through the story of Cachia’s misfortunes; an elusive blue-eyed blonde whose pursuit was to take up all my own spare time for more than a year because I was trying to help Cachia and had come to realize she was the only alibi witness the courts would believe.

There were other elements in Cachia’s misfortunes. Not only did his own side fail to put all his alibi witnesses on the stand but Toronto police, to whom he had detailed his alibi, took little action to confirm it or break it down. The prosecution relied almost solely on the identification testimony of one man—and two juries believed him.

It was not the first time Ontario courts had erroneously convicted men on the evidence of a single identification witness. In the celebrated Labatt kidnapping case, David Meisner was convicted on the sole evidence of the late John Labatt. After several years in prison Meisner was granted a retrial and set free after the introduction of new evidence which pointed to Michael McCardell instead of Meisner. McCardell was almost six feet tall and weighed close to 200 pounds; Meisner was short and weighed about 135 pounds. In the past year Norman Boyd and Ron Power were both freed after being convicted of armed robbery—on the evidence

REPORTER FRED THOMPSON'S PERSEVERANCE FINALLY WON LIBERTY FOR PAUL ACHIA

of identification witnesses, both of whom proved to have been mistaken.

In Cachia’s case his lawyer filed notice of appeal on the grounds that the verdict was contrary to the evidence. Because an appeal was pending Cachia was kept in the Don Jail instead of being sent to penitentiary to begin his four-year term. He was to remain there for ten months, for the simple reason that his parents were unable to raise the $99 necessary to pay for transcripts of the evidence taken at his trial.

I wonder how many people know that if a man wants to appeal against a conviction for crime, the first requirement is money—cash down for the copies of transcribed evidence which must be in the hands of the judges hearing the appeal; this, of course, is apart from the court costs and the prisoner’s own counsel fees.

This is the procedure, at any rate, when a convicted man wants a hearing based on the evidence in his case. Any prisoner can launch a forma pauperis appeal, but this amounts to little more than a letter written in a jail cell, a protest by a man who knows little about law. Perhaps three such “letters of ap{>eal” get a favorable hearing in Ontario each year—I know of only one during the first three months of 1954. Of course, the crown can agree to provide the evidence transcripts if it feels that there is a reasonable doubt in a case—Cachia’s second appeal was heard at crown expense, after many more people had become doubtful of Cachia’s guilt. But the crown not only did not offer to provide transcripts for the first appeal, but was preparing to move that the notice of appeal be thrown out on the grounds that nothing was being done about it. In the end George Pate, Toronto’s official court reporter, provided transcripts without payment.

A final fact goes almost beyond the bounds of credibility: Having served ten months in jail be-

cause he couldn’t raise $99 for an appeal, and the appeal having finally been heard and thrown out, that ten months in jail was not allowed to count

against the sentence of four years he’d been handed.

The facts about the robbery with which Cachia was charged can be quickly summarized. On Sept. 20, 1951, just as Joseph Kearns, Allan Cox and George Linstead, employees of Poison’s Auto Service Station, at the extreme west end of Bloor Street, Toronto, were about to open for business, the station was held up by three men. One of them forced Cox, at gunpoint, to drive him several blocks away from the station. The other two entered the office. The taller of the pair had both hands in his pockets, and told Kearns: “Okay, stick ’em up and open the safe for me.” Kearns laughed, but the man warned him: “It’s no laughing matter; it’s serious, so open up.” Kearns opened up, the man reached in and took $231. All this time the second hold-up man had stood quietly at the door, saying nothing. This second man Kearns described to police as short and dark, with curly hair worn rather long, and a broad nose.

A Stool Pigeon ,/Fingered// Him

A few days later police arrested Ray Goodwin on a charge of taking part in the robbery.

On Sept. 27 Paul Cachia was in court in Toronto City Hall to answer a charge of assault. He had been involved in a street fight near his east end home. He was fined $40 or fifteen days, couldn’t pay the fine, and was taken into custody to serve the time. But while he was still in the City Hall “bull pen” awaiting transfer to the Don Jail he was taken into custody by Detective John Gillespie and removed to Toronto Police Headquarters. He was put into a line-up and was identified by Kearns as the “second man” in the hold up, the silent man who had stood at the door throughout the robbery. A charge of robbery was laid against Cachia.

What led the police to Cachia —I was to learn laterwas a stool pigeon’s report that he had heard Cachia in a pool room “shooting off his face” about

the hold up of the service station. Cachia denied that he had talked about the robbery in the pool room, but 1 think it’s possible that he did—talk, that is. Cachia appears to me to be the type that might pretend to have been in on an armed robbery to bolster his own ego and to lend him a false air of toughness in the eyes of his pool-room companions.

If he was guilty of that boastful talk in the hearing of a stool pigeon, Cachia certainly talked himself into one of the most baffling and prolonged messes a nineteen-year-old ever got into. The bare calendar of the hearings of the charge against Cachia is a formidable list:

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

OCTOBER

JUNE

DECEMBER

1951: Arraigned in New Toronto Magistrate’s Court; committed for trial by a higher court.

1951: Found guilty by jury, sentenced to four years by Judge Forsyth.

1952: Appeal heard and dismissed.

1953: Retrial ordered by federal Justice Minister Garson; Cachia again tried by jury, found guilty, sentenced to two years less a day in reformatory in view of time already served, by Judge Samuel Factor.

1953: Second appeal launched, second retrial ordered.

JANUARY 1954: Cachia tried by Judge Forsyth without a jury. Found not guilty.

It is true that Paul Cachia is not an average citizen. He had several strikes against him when he was arrested —a record of three previous convictions for lesser crimes. He is the product of a depressed neighborhood; he is an epileptic; his education stopped at seventh grade in elementary school: these factors, combined with the loss of some upper teeth, make him all but inarticulate. His struggles to make himself understood on the witness stand were pitiful. Only when he cried out in helpless protest was his meaning clear.

In covering hundreds

Continued on page 78

My Fight to Free Paul Cachia

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 11

of criminal trials as a newspaper reporter I had heard many prisoners protest their innocence after sentence —tout never with such shrill, helpless vehemence as Paul Cachia. That cry of his caused me to remember the case when, ten months later in Toronto’s Osgoode Hall I covered Cachia’s ap-

peal, which had been delayed for nearly a year simply because Cachia’s parents could not raise the $99 required for a transcript of evidence.

The appeal was quickly disposed of; the judges could see no reason for interfering with the jury’s verdict. I walked out of the courtroom with Reg McLean, the young Negro lawyer who had defended Cachia. McLean was so angry that he was practically in tears. “The kid’s innocent, but 1 just can’t make them see it,” he kept insisting. “That girl could prove it, too, if I could find her.”

It was the first time I had heard of the elusive Marina Morris, the girl who might be able to prove Cachia’s innocence because she knew who was guilty. Rut at that time I didn’t even know her name; just the rather vague intimation from a lawyer that somewhere there was a girl who knew a great deal about a hold up that Cachia swore he hadn’t taken part in—but for which he was about to start serving four years.

That, incidentally, was one of the points that got me interested in the case: the fact that Paul Cachia, in cus-

tody since Sept. 27, 1951, was now, more than a year later, about to start serving the term. Only when crown officials consent to time spent in jail pending appeal counting on the sentence will the Appeal Court judges allow it to do so—and in this case the crown did not consent.

But when I stood talking with McLean outside Osgoode Hall I had formed no opinion of Cachia’s guilt or innocence. In fact, I knew very little about the case. Only that the very real anger first of Cachia and then of his lawyer added up to a hunch that the case might be worth looking into. I told McLean, “Let me have that transcript of evidence and I’ll see what I think about it.”

What I walked out of Osgoode Hall with that day was more than a 167page report of a criminal trial—it was a mortgage on all my spare time and on my patience and peace of mind for more than a year.

First, I had to catch up on the facts. On Nov. 4, 1951, five weeks after his arrest, Cachia was brought into magistrate’s Court in suburban New Toronto for preliminary hearing. Ray Goodwin was there too; but Goodwin elected summary trial, was convicted and sentenced to five years in penitentiary. Thus he bowed out of the story—until his dramatic but abortive return nearly a year later, when he would admit that he had never met Cachia before they were both arrested for the same crime. Cachia’s lawyer, McLean, elected trial for his client by a higher court.

How Could He Be Charged?

Ironically enough, the ordeals which were to face Cachia between late 1951 and early 1954 could probably have been halted before they had well begun. The key to the Cachia case—the key which was eventually to set him free— was present in the court at New Toronto at that very first hearing: Marina Morris. What’s more, in that court she had already made the very statements which were eventually to free Cachia. But she hadn’t made them to the magistrate—she made them to Cachia’s mother, Grace.

Marina was Ray Goodwin’s girl friend; she was in court that first morning to hear the case against him. In court she recognized June Rowan, an old school friend. Marina was amazed to learn that June’s boy friend, Cachia, was charged in the same robbery as Goodwin. She told Mrs. Cachia, to whom June introduced her, that she knew Cachia was not mixed up in the robbery. She even offered to give evidence—now that Goodwin had nothing to lose from the truth. Mrs. Cachia i eagerly passed this information on to her son’s lawyer, McLean—-but Marina was not called.

Later when I asked McLean why he had not put Marina on the stand he explained that he did not think she would be a good witness, that the crown could probably pick her credibility and reliability to pieces, leaving Cachia worse off than he would have been without her testimony. Later, when Cachia obviously needed all the help he i could get, it was too late: Marina had vanished.

It is easy, and perhaps unfair, for a reporter to pick holes in the conduct of an unsuccessful defense from the vantage point of hindsight. But in my i opinion the failure to call Marina was not the most serious error of his defense. That defense hinged on an alibi.

I Called to the stand in his own defense,

! Cachia testified that on the morning of the robbery (which took place a few minutes after 7 a.m. ) he had been in the I company of, had seen and spoken to no ' fewer than seven persons who knew

him personally, between 6.45 and a couple of hours past that time—several miles away from the scene of the crime. But McLean called only two of these persons to the stand.

When I read the transcript of the evidence that night, though, there were other points not connected with defense strategy which puzzled me. As an experienced court reporter, I knew there was usually nothing that pleased police more than to be able to investigate an alibi and prove it false.

Cachia’s whole defense, as I have said, was an alibi. Not a simple alibi, but a complex one involving seven or eight people, the kind that, once a flaw was found in it, would collapse like a house of cards. Cachia in his somewhat incoherent way had poured this alibi into the ears of the detectives on the day of his arrest. This the police did not deny.

Cachia claimed his sister Rita had awakened him some time between 6.30 and 6.45 on the morning of the hold up; that he had talked to his father before seven, some conversation about a job (probably Christopher Cachia was bawling his son out for not looking for work); that he had talked to his mother in bed and borrowed three DuMaurier cigarettes from her; that he had walked a few blocks to the home of his friend, Jack Rowan, brother of his girl friend June; that he drank tea with Mrs. Rowan, Jack, June and a younger sister Dolores; that at 7.30 he and Jack were at the corner of Broadview and Queen, the other side of town from the scene of the robbery, and that a few minutes later they borrowed a car from one Ernie Graham to drive to the suburban village of Agincourt.

When McLean cross-examined Detective John Gillespie, who arrested Cachia and to whom Cachia gave his alibi, as to what Gillespie had done about the alibi, the following exchange occurred:

Q: ... Did you investigate any of the information that was brought to your attention?

A: Yes I did, to a certain extent.

Q: To a certain extent? Didn’t you think they were worth investigating to the fullest extent?

A: The information I got. I didn’t believe it.

After several repetitious questions and answers on the same subject, t he cross-examination continued :

Q: And because you didn’t believe it, you just forgot about it?

A: No, I didn't forget about it.

Q: Did you visit any homes as a result of the information received?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: What homes did you visit?

A: The home of the accused.

Q: Any other home?

A: No.

Actually, I discovered later, the only police investigation of Cachia’s alibi had been a search of his parents’ house, presumably seeking a brown plaid shirt and black shoes which Kearns said the “second man” at the hold up was wearing. No such articles were produced in court. In fact, Cachia and his relatives said he owned no brown plaid shirt and no black shoes.

After Judge Forsyth had summed up to the jury, he asked McLean if he had any objections to the summing up. McLean referred to the police handling —or lack of handling—of Cachia’s alibi and said: “I feel it should have been

impressed a little more on the jury that he (Cachia) having mentioned it to the police, it could have been investigated by them. They should weigh that.” Judge Forsyth replied: “Why should 1 say it should be investigated by the police? It should be investigated by the police if the police think it should

be investigated. I am not going to say it should be . . . The police are not under obligation to investigate every alibi a person puts up. I mean, if they did that we would have to have about twice the police force, I should think ... I am not going to call the jury back for that.”

The judge’s ruling on the police handling of an alibi in a criminal case is undoubtedly good law. But, 1 couldn’t help thinking, is it good police work? The police had virtually ignored Cachia’s alibi; his own defense counsel had called only two of seven available

witnesses. Both ways Cachia lost— and I can’t say 1 blamed the jury for not attaching too much weight to the alibi, the way it was presented to them.

When I had finished digesting the case I could see that Marina Morris, the missing witness who was neither a relative nor a friend of Cachia’s, was probably the only key to Cachia’s freedom —if, indeed, a case lost in jury court and lost again in appeal could be reopened.

There was one other point in the transcript that interested me and puzzled me. The crown’s case depend-

ed solely on the testimony of Joseph Kearns, a clean-cut and pleasant young man who was utterly unshaken in his identification of Cachia as the “second man.” No statement by Cachia—certainly nothing in the way of a confession, had been put in by the crown. In fact, Crown Counsel H. H. Bull and police witnesses obviously shied away from mention of a statement. Yet there was a hint that a statement had been made. At one point McLean, questioning Detective Gillespie, asked, “Was Cachia cautioned at. any time about anything?” Police caution wit-

nesses only when about to take a statement. At this point Bull interrupted: “No, no, no. We are now coming to the point where he is verging on evidence which can only be evidence if the crown elects to make it so. I have satisfied myself that the evidence should not be offered because I am satisfied that it is not admissible and therefore it is not beinf{ offered to this court ...”

There had, indeed, been a statement signed by Cachia. A year and a half later, on the fourth of six hearings of his case, Cachia was to testify that he had signed a statement.

But even telling his own story voluntarily, with a lawyer to help him, Cachia could not put together a coherent narrative. Here is a sample passage from his evidence:

When I got outside my house there is a big clock on the corner, Allen and Boulton, to which way I was walking; I looked at the clock and noted that it was five after seven. I went to my boy friend’s house, lives 93 McGee Street, Jackie Rowan, which is only a couple of minute’s walk. I knocked at the door, Jackie answered; I went in and sat down in the kitchen. So his mother was making tea, she poured me a cup and Jackie a cup. His little sister Dolores was sitting beside the kitchen table and June came in . . . June is another sister . . . she came in and said . . . “Dolores’ dress” ... a skirt it was, red skirt . . . wine . . . and I told June, “Yes it looks real good on her.” Me and Jackie was going to look for a job both that there morning and we had to meet Ernie Graham before he got to work, which he goes into work seven-thirty on Mills Avenue, Western or Eastern Iron and Steel he works for on Mills Avenue. We left the house where we had to meet Ernie to get the car, me and Jack Rowan. We walked out to the corner Broadview and Queen to see if Ernie went to work, like he goes that way from his house, and it was about seven-thirty when we got to the corner. . .

Later, an agonizing two years and one month later, the same judge who listened to that tortured tarradiddle was to try Cachia again and to believe what he was trying to say—after it was given support by Marina, the first witness for Cachia anybody in authority

seemed actually inclined to believe.

Buried in Cachia’s ramblings about a wine-colored skirt worn by a little girl was the solid fact that Mrs. Jessie Rowan, of 93 McGee Street, could pinpoint the date on which her son’s friend, Paul Cachia, had drunk tea in her kitchen at a time when, the breadth of the city away, three men were robbing Poison’s Service Station. The day before, the nineteenth, Mrs. Rowan had received in the mail—as she always did on the nineteenth of every month— her family-allowance cheque. She had promptly gone downtown and bought a wine-red skirt for her young daughter Dolores.

The Hunt for Marina Begins

By taking the stand so ineffectually in his own defense Cachia had done worse than get himself confused and disbelieved. He had laid himself open to questioning about his record. Usually a person charged with a crime does not have his previous record revealed in court until after conviction, and before sentence. But by trying to help his own cause Cachia also had to admit that he was an ex-convict. Early in 1950 he was convicted and given suspended sentence for shopbreaking. In August of the same year he was sentenced for shopbreaking and theft, and served ten months in the Ontario Reformatory, at Guelph. In September 1951 he was picked up on the assault charge and was in custody when arrested for the service-station robbery.

For me to pick up the threads of a case at this late point—I thought it was late, but actually the drama was only one third played out—was not easy. I started to hunt for Marina Morris. 1 didn’t even have a former address to go on at that time. I had only Mrs. Cachia’s vague recollection that during their conversation in the New Toronto court Marina had told her she worked in a Queen Street restaurant in the general vicinity of Toronto City Hall. There are dozens of restaurants in that area. I visited them all but my ques-tions were met with blank stares or silent headshakes.

Meanwhile, Paul Cachia, waiting out the ten months in Don Jail while his parents tried to raise money for an

appeal, was not a model prisoner. He wept frequently, banged his head against his cell wall, and shook the bars in impotent rage. The only comfort he got was the visits from his mother— and especially from June Rowan, whom Cachia considered his steady girl friend. Then one day June told him she was going to marry another man. As he was being led back to his cell from the visitors’ room Cachia spotted Detective Gillespie. Cachia broke away from his guards, rushed at the man who had arrested him, and threw a flurry of blows until the guards pounced on him.

Immediately after the appeal, while I was still digesting the transcript of evidence and wondering where to start in reopening the case, small unhappy incidents were occurring which were, it turned out, to have a bearing on Cachia’s final fate.

The day after Cachia’s appeal failed, his mother and sister Rita went to the Don Jail for a farewell visit. They found that he had already been whisked away to the penitentiary at Kingston. It is possible, I believe, that if they had seen Cachia they would have become reconciled to his sentence, and done nothing further. But finding her son gone without warning, Mrs. Cachia told me later, she “felt she had to do something . . . anything . . . about it.”

The two women went to the Ontario Parliament Buildings at Queen’s Park, told their story to a guide, and were directed to the Attorney-General’s Department. There somebody told them, “Sorry, but there weren’t enough witnesses on Paul’s side.”

They were on their way out of the building, all hope ended, when one of those incredible, one-in-a-million incidents occurred. The guide who had directed them was bending over a man writhing on the floor. Mrs. Cachia recognized his seizure as an epileptic fit. Her son had had them, and she knew what to do. She took charge, loosened the man’s collar and seized his tongue to prevent him choking himself. The guide, who had been helpless in the emergency, detained Mrs. Cachia to express his gratitude when the man recovered and went on his way. Then the guide remembered Mrs. Cachia’s mission.

“How did you make out?” he asked.

“Not so good.”

Because Mrs. Cachia had helped him with the sick man the guide decided to do something slightly beyond the call of duty. He took Mrs. Cachia and Rita to the office of Robert Macaulay, member of the legislature for Toron toRiverdale, the riding in which the Caehias lived. Macaulay was not too impressed with the Caehias’ story. But they finally persuaded him, by telling him of the encounter with Marina at the preliminary hearing, to look into the case. Macaulay urged Clifford Magone, Ontario’s Deputy AttorneyGeneral, to have the provincial police check on Marina. The elusive witness, it turned out, had moved to Trenton to look after her sick mother.

When Provincial Police Inspector Donald Nicol called on her, Marina told her story simply and readily. And an extraordinary story it was, too. Marina had been living with Ray Goodwin, the man who was sentenced to five years for taking part in the robbery. Early in the morning of Sept. 20 she had sat in their room while Goodwin and two other men loaded revolvers and talked over their plans for a robbery.

Was Paul Cachia one of these men? asked the inspector.

No, said Marina, she had never seen Cachia until the day of the preliminary hearing in New Toronto.

Who were the two men with Goodwin? asked the inspector.

They were, Marina said, Bruce Hilley and Robert Millar.

It was the first time police had heard the names of Hilley and Millar in connection with the service-station hold up. It wasn’t difficult to locate Bruce (Rocky) Hilley. He was at Collin’s Bay, the “preferred” annex of Portsmouth Penitentiary, serving five years for the armed robbery of a chain grocery store a few months after the service-station job.

Robert Millar had been killed in Korea a week before Marina named him to Inspector Nicol.

Nicol and other provincial police officers went to Kingston and, on the same day but separately, interviewed Cachia, Hilley and Goodwin. Hilley was promised immunity from any charge in connection with the servicestation robbery. Goodwin and Hilley denied that Cachia had been with them on the robbery. Cachia’s statement was a repetition of his alibi and a declaration of his innocence.

The provincial police made a full report on their findings to the Ontario Attorney-General’s Department. I got wind that something was stirring in the Cachia case, but could get only the usual “won’t confirm or deny” from officials. When I talked to Clifford Magone, the Deputy Attorney-General, he told me the whole matter was being investigated, and asked me not to do anything about it.

lie Got a Quick Brush

Early last June I ran into David Humphrey in the corridor of Toronto City Hall. Humphrey had represented the crown at the preliminary hearing of the charge against Cachia. He asked me if I was still interested in the Cachia case, and revealed that Cachia had been brought to Toronto from the penitentiary, that federal Minister of Justice Garson had ordered a retrial— once a prisoner is sentenced to penitentiary he becomes a ward of the federal government and therefore his fate is technically under federal jurisdiction. Humphrey also told me that a young lawyer named Hugh Honsberger had been appointed to defend Cachia under Ontario’s free legal-aid program.

This was good news, but I had one concern: that Cachia be given the best possible defense. I knew nothing about Honsberger except that he was a very recent graduate. 1 telephoned the Sheriff of York County, J. D. Conover, who is responsible for making arrangements for free legal aid. I told him I could get an experienced lawyer to defend Cachia without charge. The sheriff told me brusquely that a lawyer had already been assigned to the case. I realized the futility of trying to buck the sheriff’s attitude.

The retrial of Paul Cachia, which opened June 15, 1953, in the same No. 1 courtroom at Toronto City Hall where he had been sentenced nineteen months before, should have been a triumphant vindication of Cachia’s innocence. It was not.

Even removed from the context of his other trials and appeals, this trial of Paul Cachia was, I think, an extraordinary affair. The defense now called Goodwin and Hilley, who admitted taking part ip the robbery, denied that Cachia was present, and named Robert Millar as the third man. The defense also called Rita Cachia, Paul’s sister; Christopher Cachia, his father; Mrs. Grace Cachia, his mother; Jack Rowan, with whom Cachia claimed to be at the time of the robbery; Mrs. Jessie Rowan, who poured Cachia a cup of tea shortly after 7 a.m. and remembered the day because she had bought her daughter a dress with her baby-bonus cheque received the day before; Mrs.

June Smith, nee Rowan, Cachia’s former girl friend; Ernie Graham, who said lie had loaned Cachia and Rowan his car that morning to drive to a farm in Agincourt.

Cachia’s defense at his retrial was the most complete he had yet put up. But it wasn’t good enough. Marina was not there.

Honsberger, counsel for Cachia, had written to Marina in Trenton asking her to come and give evidence. The letter had been returned marked “not here.” Once more the elusive key witness had disappeared.

But there were other factors that didn’t help Cachia.

All the witnesses for the defense had placed Cachia far from the scene of the crime at the time he was supposed to be there. But now came some other evidence that had not been given before. Ray Goodwin started to refer to something he had told Humphrey before the start of his own trial in New Toronto. Humphrey, then as now, was the crown prosecutor. At this point Humphrey asked to have the jury excluded, and the following exchange I took place between the crown attorney I and the convict-witness:

Humphrey: I said something to you —correct me if I’m wrong—“Well, I know you’re pleading not guilty, but strictly between you and I, was I Cachia there?”

Goodwin: That’s right.

Humphrey: And you said: “No, he wasn’t.”

Goodwin: That’s right.

Humphrey: But then didn’t you also tell me: “I have known Cachia for some time and he is too dumb to take on a job like that”?

Goodwin: No. I didn’t. You said it yourself, I didn’t.

Humphrey: Well, I never . . .

Goodwin: You said yourself that you figured Cachia was too dumb for anything like that. I didn’t say it, you said it yourself.

Humphrey: Oh. I see.

Goodwin also testified that he had : told Governor Sanderson of the Don Jail that Cachia had not been on the ! hold up.

Kearns, the service-station attenj dant, stuck to his identification of I Cachia. Shown a photograph of Millar, the man named by Goodwin and Hilley j as having been with them—and described by them as bearing a resemblance to Cachia—Kearns still said he had never seen the man before. But

I believe it was two statements by the judge and by Humphrey which finally swung the verdict against Cachia. In a fair summing up, Mr. Justice Factor inserted this query:

“Are they trying to get the accused out of this jam because they have received information that this other third man, as they allege, is now dead, killed in Korea?”

But it was Humphrey’s statement that brought a gasp from reporters and spectators:

“A hero has given his life for his country and yet he is being accused in court of a crime.”

I had a sinking feeling that once more Cachia was going to take the rap for someone else, this time for a man who.had died in battle. But when the verdict came—“guilty”—I was shocked and angry; more angry, I think, than I had ever been in my life.

Enter Arthur Martin

Cachia’s reaction was characteristic. Shortly after the verdict and sentence —two years in reformatory this time, in view of time already served—he saw Humphrey as he was awaiting removal to the cells, and took a swing at the man who had prosecuted him. It was Ray Goodwin, of all people, who held Cachia off'. “I was only doing my duty,” Humphrey told the crying-mad Cachia mildly.

My own reaction was similar to the feeling of a sharp, unfair punch in the solar plexus. I felt like telling all concerned: “I’m going to get my big

brother after you.” The “biggest brother” I could think of was Arthur Martin, probably the most successful criminal lawyer in Canada. In fact, I considered Martin too big. He commanded fees of thousands, and the Cachias couldn’t raise a hundred. But it would do no harm to talk to him, ask him whom I should approach. To my surprise and delight Martin said, after 1 had outlined the case: “Why, I’ll

take it myself.” He added, however: “But we’ll have to find this Marina.”

Until now I had devoted a good part of my time to the case. Now it became a full-time operation outside working hours. I started at the beginning by going to see Mrs. Cachia-—and got a small clue right away. Goodwin, by now thoroughly remorseful for what he had done—and failed to undo—to Cachia, passed word to him in prison that Marina used to live at an address

on McMurrich Street, Toronto. At the address a woman told me that ghe hadn’t heard of Marina for more than a year. I wrote my name and address down on a slip of paper and asked her to give it to Marina if the girl ever turned up. Through sweltering July and August I trudged Toronto streets, checking restaurant after restaurant on the slim clue provided by Mrs. Cachia, who “thought she had heard that Marina once worked in a restaurant.”

Then late in August my telephone rang. A demure voice said: “You were looking for me? My name is Marina Gore.”

Marina! But I had been told ber last name was Morris. “Oh,” she explained, “I’m married now. I’ve been in Nova Scotia. My husband is at an army camp there.”

Marina was at the McMurrich Street house, and I told her to wait there until I came. I took a cab and urged the driver to speed. I had seen one blurred snapshot of Marina, and I was prepared to meet a hard-faced close-mouthed character. The door was opened by a petite gently rounded blonde with blue eyes and a pert nose. She was still in her teens.

Marina was amazed when 1 told her what I wanted—her testimony for still another appeal for Cachia.

“But isn’t he out?” she asked. “I told the provincials everything and I figured he’d be out the next day. Yes, and I told the Toronto policemen, too.”

“Toronto policemen?”

“Sure,” she said, “two Toronto cops came out to Trenton after the provincials had been there.”

Exit the Key Witness

When she learned what had happened at Cachia’s retrial Marina was quite willing to tell me what she knew about the robbery. After Goodwin, Hilley and Millar left the rooming house early in the morning of Sept. 20, 1951, Marina and two other girls, friends of Hilley and Millar, played cards until they returned an hour later.

“Then we all split up,” said Marina. “Ray and I got a room on Henry Street under the name of Valsqué. Later we went out and got a paper and read about the robbery. That was when Ray told me what they had done. Two days later he was arrested. After his arrest I found a small plated revolver under the mattress. Bobby Millar was waiting for me outside. I gave him the revolver.”

“When did you next see Bobby Millar?” I asked.

“Six or seven months later. He was at the corner of Yonge and Queen. He was in the army. That was the last I saw of him.”

Marina got a job in a restaurant after her return to Toronto and I kept a close eye on her. She told me presently that she wanted to go out to the suburb of Oakville to look after a friend who was expecting a baby. She gave me the address and I kept in touch with her. The hearing of the appeal was getting near.

I checked her Oakville address again to tell her to be ready to return for the hearing. Marina had disappeared again.

I started tramping the streets once more. By now I had some idea of her friends, acquaintances and the places she frequented. I badgered everybody who knew her, however slightly, to phone me if they saw her. I distributed my name and address to the inmates and personnel of half the restaurants, hotels and beverage rooms of Toronto.

My wife knew what I was doing, of course—and it was just as well. When I was away from home there would be

frequent calls that went like this:

“Is Fred there?”

“No. Shall I give him a message?”

“Just tell him to call Irene.”

“And what is the number?”

“Oh, Fred will know wyhere to get me.”

The various Irenes had many things to say, suggestions to make, but none could answer the question: “Where is

Marina?”

In City Hall four days before the appeal I was having a rather discouraging conversation with Arthur Martin on the chances of the appeal. Martin wns working hard on the case: To give one small example, he produced in court a hospital physiotherapist who showed a record that Mrs. Cachia had attended a clinic for her varicose veins on t' e day of the robbery. She had declared that the hospital visit was what made her remember the day—but no corroboration had previously been produced. Marina, however, was my problem.

I turned away from Martin, there in the crowded corridor—and collided with Marina. I grabbed her. “Where the hell have you been?” I asked, angry and relieved at the same time. She smiled that innocent smile of hers and said: “I was just taking a short cut

through the City Hall.” She never offered any explanation of her absence.

I kept even closer check on her after that. I bought her a new hat, just in case she had to appear before the Appeal Court judges. Women witnesses must wear a hat in court, and Marina was the bare-headed type. She wasn’t called, but the Supreme Court granted Cachia a new trial—his third—chiefly on the ground that Marina had been found and would be a witness.

Of course, it had to happen again. With just four days to go before the trial Marina was nowhere to be found. Again I made the rounds, this time adding the rooming-house district where she and Goodwin had lived in hopes she might have returned to her old haunts. At one house a few doors away from where the robbery had been planned, I found her name on the registry . . . for the night before. She had gone again.

The night before the trial a man telephoned me that Marina would be in a restaurant near the corner of Church and Wellesley, in a rundown part of Toronto, in the morning.

1 didn’t sleep that night.

In the morning I went to the restaurant. Marina was there. Docilely she sat in a booth with me and drank coffee.

“You’ve caused a lot of trouble,” I said, feeling that it was a weak understatement.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“I’m not taking any chances this time,” 1 said, and I handed her a summons, an ordinary witness summons anyone can serve. Martin had obtained it for me. Marina took it and laughed.

Paul Cachia’s third trial—the sixth time bis alleged participation in the robbery had been before a court, was almost anticlimax. Marina, now demurely pregnant, innocently blond and blue-eyed, was an ideal witness. This time the trial was before a judge alone —Judge Forsyth.

Judge Forsyth pointed out that he had presided at the first trial but Arthur Martin said he was quite content.

The final hearing was brief. In summing up, Judge Forsyth said: “There is no doubt now in my mind that the accused is not guilty.” He so found.

As the court officials, witnesses and spectators filed out, I met Paul Cachia for the first time. For a long time we couldn’t speak, but just shook hands. Paul was crying, this time with relief. And my eyes weren’t dry either. ★