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Former Dal med student William Sandeson denied bail again on 2015 murder charge

['William Sandeson arrives at provincial court in Halifax on Oct. 27, 2015. Sandeson is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Taylor Samson, a fellow Dalhousie University student, who was last seen on Aug. 15 and whose body has not been found.']
William Michael Sandeson, charged with first-degree murder in the August 2015 killing of fellow Dalhousie University student Taylor Samson, was denied bail Friday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. - File

A Halifax judge has rejected former Dalhousie University medical student William Michael Sandeson’s second bid for bail on a charge of first-degree murder.

Sandeson, 28, has been in custody since August 2015, when he was arrested in the killing of Dal physics student Taylor Samson.

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury found Sandeson guilty in June 2017, and he was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

But the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal overturned the conviction in June 2020 and ordered a new trial. The Appeal Court said a mistrial ought to have been declared at Sandeson’s trial after it was revealed that a private investigator retained by the defence had tipped off police about new evidence.

In November, the Crown applied to the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal the Appeal Court decision and have the conviction restored, so new trial dates have yet to be set.

A bail hearing was held this week in Supreme Court, with Sandeson appearing by video from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth.

Justice James Chipman gave his decision Friday, denying Sandeson bail. The reasons for the judge’s decision cannot be reported because of a temporary publication ban on details of the bail hearing to protect Sandeson’s right to a fair trial.

Sandeson was denied bail by a different Supreme Court judge in October 2015.

Samson, 22, disappeared after allegedly going to Sandeson’s apartment on Henry Street in Halifax on the evening of Aug. 15, 2015, to sell him nine kilograms of marijuana for $40,000.

Samson’s body has not been located, but police allegedly found his DNA on a 9mm handgun, a duffel bag and other items seized from the apartment or the Sandeson family’s farm in Lower Truro.

Two of Sandeson’s neighbours told police they hadn’t seen or heard anything on the night of the alleged killing. But they later told private investigator Bruce Webb that they looked into the apartment after hearing a single gunshot and saw a man slumped over the kitchen table, with blood coming from his head.

Webb, a former Mountie, put police in contact with the two young men, who had moved to Ontario.

Toronto lawyer Alison Craig represented Sandeson at the bail hearing this week. She called evidence from six people, including five who were offering to act as sureties for Sandeson.

Crown attorneys Christine Driscoll and Kim McOnie argued against Sandeson’s release. They called testimony from one person, a police officer.

The judge ordered Sandeson to return to court in April for a case-management hearing.

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