By Cole Parkinson
After more than four years, a local man has been found not guilty after being charged with theft and fraud of over $5,000.
Scott Allen Blanchard was accused of stealing nearly $500,000 from a Taber business back in 2016 and was back in Lethbridge court last week where he was finally found not guilty. When he was first arrested and charged back in 2016, the news blew up not only on a local level — but a national level. Blanchard was disappointed media was not in attendance last week when the court finally ruled a not guilty verdict.
“When I initially got charged, it exploded. It was on Global News, it was on the second page of the Toronto Sun — it got spread all over the place. Come trial time, there was no one at the court to cover it,” said Blanchard, in an interview with the Times.
On Oct. 11, 2016, Blanchard elected to be tried by a Court of Queen’s Bench judge and jury with a preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing was later waived, but a trial was set for November 2018. Several months before the trial, the court was told additional witnesses had been identified, and the trial was adjourned until October 2019 in front of a judge alone — but that trial was also cancelled. The three-day trial was originally scheduled to be heard in Taber Provincial Court March 3-5, 2021.
While originally slated for three days of testimony, only two days were needed and the judge ruled the Crown did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and rendered a verdict of not guilty March 4.
“It feels fantastic. It was a super scary thing to face. It’s really good, I’m exhausted, if I’m being completely honest. I’m tired of it, four and a half years is too long — but the system is the system and that’s how long it took. I’m super pleased with the outcome,” continued Blanchard, who stated overall he feels vindicated after the case dragged on for several years. “No slight on you in my answer in this, (I did feel vindicated) except for the lack of media interest in this compared to the interest that was there when I was charged.”
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s surreal.”
A big help for Blanchard over the years has been continued support from friends and family who never wavered. “(There was) an incredible, beyond belief amount of support from so many people. So many friends and family.”
With the trial and case behind him, Blanchard is happy he can finally turn his sights to the future.
“Just continuing on with my career and trying to get back on my feet financially because this took a toll dramatically. Lawyers aren’t cheap, but they’re well worth every penny if you need to fight for your life. I was innocent, and I maintained that the whole way through. It was a four-year process and it wasn’t cheap for legal fees. Next is getting back to work and get my life back on track. Some normalcy would be fantastic.”