Canadian Taxi Driver Homicides: William Alexander Alward Previous page    Next page • Driver Profiles

William Alexander Alward

St. John, New Brunswick / February 15, 1970

Mr. Alward was dispatched to a house on Metcalfe Street, St. John, at about 4 a.m. on February 15, 1970, where he picked up a 22-year-old man. The man had been drinking since the previous evening and was armed with a .22 revolver.

Mr. Alward was directed to drive out of town but when he reached the intersection of Backland Road and Mackay Highway he turned the cab around and headed back toward the city despite being ordered to continue straight on. The man then shot Mr. Alward three times and robbed him of $22.05.

Mr. Alward managed to drive his taxi to the nearest police station, arriving at 4:58 a.m. Police took him to the hospital where he died the following day.

The jury had the option of convicting the killer of either non-capital murder or manslaughter. The judge's instructions laid heavy emphasis on the need to consider whether the accused was capable, in his intoxicated condition, to form the intent to murder. The jury evidently had doubts on this point and returned a verdict of manslaughter. The killer was sentenced to five years in prison.

The Crown appealed the conviction to the New Brunswick Supreme Court on the grounds that the judge did not instruct the jury properly with respect to murder committed in the course of an armed robbery. They also argued that the sentence was inadequate in view of the seriousness of the crime.

The court ruled that the judge in the original trial should have pointed out to the jury that a person who was too drunk to form the intent to murder might nevertheless be capable of forming the intent to commit robbery; and that under the Criminal Code a person who caused a death in the course of an armed robbery could be found guilty of non-capital murder whether or not there was a specific intent to murder.

The court granted the appeal and ordered a new trial.

Historic King Street, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada [detail from postcard, circa 1970]. Photo by E. Otto (Source: Karen Carruthers, The Postcards of Father Maurice)