Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was originally published on Friday, Dec. 29, 2023, at 5:16 p.m. For the most recently updated information, please see the bottom of the article.
Accused cold case rapist Lawrence Serson has been in court 37 times since his arrest last January, but his case has yet to get past the bail stage.
The 81-year-old Serson attended Justice of the Peace Ruth Campbell’s virtual bail court over the phone from Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, on Friday, Dec. 29, 2023.
After last week’s tearful appearance without a lawyer, Serson seems to have obtained legal representation. Appearing on Serson’s behalf was C. Gupta, who said he was “acting as agent” for defence attorney Mustafa Sheikh of Toronto.
Serson interrupted to complain that he had difficulty understanding Gupta, and Campbell had to reassure him several times that she would ask Gupta to repeat himself.
After a few minutes in a breakout room with his client, Gupta asked that the matter be returned on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. In the meantime, he said he would be contacting sureties and coming up with a bail plan.
At this point, Crown attorney Shawn Eagles asked if he could address the court on record. The judge allowed it.
Eagles pointed out that since Serson’s arrest in January 2023, the matter has been going on for nearly a year, with an earlier defence team or teams looking for medical evidence to assist in a bail hearing. He alluded to previous issues that had come to a head “earlier this month” and said that, now, with this new counsel appearing on Serson’s behalf, the case seemed to be “back to square one.”
“So I think my friend is late on board,” Eagles said, indicating Gupta. While that was not the new attorney’s fault, Eagles continued, he wanted the new defence team to be aware of numerous previous delays by Serson’s defence, emphasizing that “this has to be kept on a fairly short leash.”
The number of delays came to light when Justice Campbell confirmed for Gupta that this was Serson’s 37th court appearance and he had not yet had a bail hearing. She ascertained that disclosure (the package of information about the case) had been given to Serson’s new counsel, and she ordered Serson to return before her on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2023, by video for an update on his bail plan.
Serson was arrested by the Kingston Police Major Crime Unit on January 18, 2023, in Hamilton, Ontario.
In a media release dated Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, police said that in 1994, at the age of 52, Serson was residing in Kingston when he unlawfully entered the residence of a 44-year-old female who lived alone.
“After Serson gained entry into the victim’s apartment he viciously attacked her while she slept. Serson overpowered the victim by confining her before violently sexually assaulting her,” police stated, adding, “Further forensic evidence/DNA was located and this DNA assisted the Major Crime Unit in identifying Serson and ultimately in solving this heinous incident.”
Serson first appeared in court in Kingston on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, when he was charged with:
- sexual assault causing bodily harm,
- breaking and entering with intent,
- uttering threats, and
- forcible confinement.
Kingstonist will provide more information on this ongoing case as it becomes available.
UPDATE (Friday, Jan. 5. 2024, at 1: 21 p.m.):
Lawrence Serson made a brief appearance Thursday, Jan. 5, 2024, but due to a packed and convoluted schedule of appearances from institutions across eastern Ontario, his case was pushed to next week.
A representative of Serson’s Lawyer, Mustafa Sheikh, waited online for his client for over an hour before he was forced to leave to attend to another matter. He instructed the duty council to have Serson’s matter adjourned to Tuesday for a “Bail hearing.”
However, when Serson eventually was brought to the video room at Central East Detention Centre, there was some confusion over whether the next appearance was for a bail hearing or to set the date for a bail hearing.
The justice of the peace instructed Serson to return on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at which time the date for the bail hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, could be confirmed.
Kingstonist will continue to follow this case and provide updated coverage as more information becomes available.