Ivan Henry wrongfully imprisoned for 26 years
By Beatrice Broderick-Auger
Last Wednesday, Ivan Henry, a man convicted of 10 counts of rape, including attempted rape and indecent assault on eight women, was set free and declared an innocent man after spending 26 years in prison.
Henry was convicted in 1983 after a questionable trial including an irregular police lineup showing him being held in a headlock by a police man.
Henry submitted more than 50 applications to get his case reconsidered but it was only in 2006, when evidence surfaced through the Robert Pickton case, that others began to believe him.
When asked if he was angry about this whole situation Henry answered, “What for? It wouldn’t heal me if I was angry. I’d just start drinking or something. I’ve got grandkids I’m so proud of, a little dog I look after and I’d like to say to people who are incarcerated, ‘Don’t give up.'”
He was convicted based on his proximity to the scenes of the crimes, his history in prison, and, most significantly, his lineup photo. The judge gave permission to the jurors to infer guilt on Henry due to his reluctance to appear in the police lineup even though the techniques used were questionable.
In 2002, British Columbia police launched “Project Small Man,” an investigation on some non-resolved sex crimes related to the Pickton murders. Through these investigations the police discovered outstanding similarities to Henry’s presumed crimes. Between 1983 and 1989 Henry was in custody and therefore could not have committed theses copy-cat crimes.
It was only three years later, when Crown counsel Jean Connor looked over a memo concerning the case, did she notice the similarities to Henry’s case. Sharing her doubts with her colleague, Mike Luchenko, led to the reviewing of the case and a situation involving a miscarriage of justice.
Henry, now 62 was released on bail. He lost his wife 20 years ago and his mother passed away in 2007. His daughters are now grown women. Tanya Olivares, now 37 was only nine when her father was incarcerated, and her younger sister, Kari, was seven at the time. Henry is now a proud grandfather of three, the oldest of whom is 16.