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Canada’s top court allows access to murdered billionaires’ estate files

By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered the estate files of a slain Canadian pharmaceutical billionaire couple to be unsealed, reasserting the principle that court proceedings should be public in a case led by the Toronto Star newspaper.

Barry Sherman and his wife Honey were found hanging by belts from a railing at their Toronto mansion in late 2017, a crime police are investigating as a targeted double murder. No one has been charged.

Trustees were appointed to handle the couple’s affairs, and the estate files were sealed by a judge, denying Toronto Star reporter Kevin Donovan access to them and setting in motion a three-year court battle that ended on Friday.

Canada’s nine justices unanimously agreed that the couple’s files should never have been held back.

“There is a strong presumption in favor of open courts,” the court wrote. In this case the arguments for withholding the documents were never strong enough.

The court files include the last will and testament of Barry Sherman, the founder of generic drug giant Apotex, and the estate of his wife, according to the Star.

Canadian courts are considered presumptively open and information filed in court proceedings is public.

Last year, police said they had identified a person of interest. No possible motive has ever been provided by investigators.

The Sherman family has criticized police handling of the deaths and hired a private investigator of their own to look into the case. The detective completed the work in 2019 but gave no details to the public.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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