Criminal charges rejected twice against man who defamed Burnaby private eye

A Burnaby private investigator has failed in a second attempt to make criminal charges stick against another PI recently found to have made defamatory statements about her online for more than a year.

In April, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jane Dardi ordered Lee Hanlon, a private investigator from Mission, to pay Dianna Leigh Holden, also known as Jolene Johnson, $27,500 for defamatory statements about her made between July 2016 and September 2017 on Facebook, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Hanlon’s personal website and a website called brainsyntax.com.

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Hanlon – who had met Holden because of their work in similar fields – had said Holden was a liar and a con artist who gave the profession a bad name.

He claimed she had harassed him, appropriated money from her company, didn’t live up to her refund policy and was mentally unstable.

He further stated she had a violent criminal history, made false claims to authorities, set up parents dealing with the ministry of children and families and was “extremely litigious.”

Hanlon didn’t deny making the statements, arguing instead that they were fair comment because they were true.

But Dardi said Hanlon provided nothing but hearsay evidence to back up 11 out of 12 of his defamatory claims.

Since Holden had been involved in a number of previous lawsuits, Dardi ruled Hanlon’s only statement that wasn’t defamatory was that Holden was “extremely litigious.”

Besides ordering Hanlon to pay Holden $27,500, she banned him from “writing, publishing, posting or in any way distributing or making public any accusatory or disparaging allegations regarding the honesty, trustworthiness or alleged improper behaviour” of Holden.

But Holden told the NOW Hanlon has since made complaints against her to Consumer Protection BC and asked for her credentials to be revoked.

Criminal harassment

Criminal harassment charges have twice been recommended against Hanlon, first by the Abbotsford police department and then – last month – by the Burnaby RCMP after complaints from Holden.

But the B.C. Prosecution Service has declined to proceed with the charges both times.

Holden said she believes the prosecution service is discriminating against her because she has diagnosed mental illnesses – borderline personality disorder and PTSD.

B.C. Prosecution Service spokesperson Dan McLaughlin said he couldn’t comment on Holden’s case specifically but explained Crown counsel won’t proceed with charges in any case unless there is a “substantial likelihood” of conviction and the prosecution is in the public interest.

“Crown Counsel must also remain aware of the presumption of innocence, the prosecution’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the fact that under Canadian criminal law, a reasonable doubt can arise from the evidence, the absence of evidence, inconsistencies in the evidence or the credibility or reliability of one or more of the witnesses,” McLaughlin said.

When asked whether the prosecution service would reject charges because of a complainant’s mental health conditions, which might make them easy to discredit as a witness, McLaughlin said it wouldn’t be inappropriate to comment generally about the impact of mental health issues “given the broad range of mental health challenges that exist.”

“Issues of reliability and credibility of testimony are present in many (reports to Crown counsel) that do not involve suggestions of mental health challenges,” he said. “Each charge assessment is conducted on the totality of the evidence available.”

 

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