An advocate for the rights of jurors has filed a lawsuit seeking damages from the federal and Ontario governments for post-traumatic stress disorder he developed during a lengthy murder trial.
Mark Farrant spent five months as a juror at the 2014 trial in Toronto of Farshad Badakhshan, who was convicted of murdering his 23-year-old girlfriend, Carina Petrache.
Badakhshan’s trial heard that he stabbed the university student and then set fire to their place. Petrache fled the blaze but was badly burned and died on the way to hospital. Badakhshan was also severely burned.
After the trial, Farrant was diagnosed with PTSD, which spurred him to become an outspoken advocate for the need to provide counselling for jurors hearing horrific cases.
In a statement of claim filed in Toronto on Friday, Farrant seeks damages from the attorneys general of Ontario and Canada “as a result of being subjected to graphic and disturbing evidence during his time as a juror.”
The claim, which has not been proven in court, says Farrant has suffered “ongoing mental health problems including but not limited to post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, nervous shock and other issues, as a direct result of being compelled to serve on the jury.”
It alleges Farrant continues to suffer from stress, fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, significant weight loss, loss of income and a diminished capacity to enjoy life.
“The psychological distress and injuries caused as a result of the plaintiff’s experience as a juror have and will continue to have a significantly negative impact on his family relationships, including but not limited to those with his wife, and two young children,” the claim reads.
Farrant successfully advocated for a new jury support program in Ontario and has been lobbying the federal government to develop a national standard to ensure every juror has access to the same level of support.
He said there is more awareness of the effects of trauma on first responders, but there needs to be recognition that jurors can suffer too.
“Thanks to Mr. Farrant’s persistent efforts, we are seeing overdue action being taken to recognize the psychological harm that can be caused as a result of sitting as a juror and being exposed to graphic evidence,” his lawyer, Todd McCarthy, said in a release.
“Unfortunately, this change is too late for Mr. Farrant who received no treatment or therapy during or after his time as a juror. It is within this context that he brings this action.”
In an email, Farrant acknowledged that the $100,000 in damages he is seeking isn’t a huge amount of money.
“The claim has a modest financial component as I believe this action is an extension of the advocacy work I have been doing,” Farrant said Tuesday.
In a 2017 interview with The Canadian Press, he said no juror should be forced to suffer in silence.
“They shouldn’t feel like it’s a continued burden for them, like it’s their job to feel and just hold those emotions inside,” Farrant said.
“Some people might feel … it’s their burden to suffer alongside with the families. That’s not the case.”
© 2018 The Canadian Press