People interviewed by Toronto homicide detectives in the early days of the Barry and Honey Sherman murder probe have recently handed over new information “previously unknown to investigators,” according to police documents filed in court.

The people — police have not identified them or said what they revealed — provided the information to detectives after the release of Sherman police files last December in response to a Toronto Star challenge of sealing orders on police search warrant documents.

Meanwhile, detectives have made a second international request for information they believe will help them solve the 2017 killing of the billionaire couple. As was the case with a previous international request last year, police refuse to say which country they have sought help from.

Barry and Honey Sherman were found dead in their basement swimming pool room on December 15, 2017. As the Star has previously reported, the founder of Apotex generic drug company and his wife were strangled, most likely with a thin ligature similar to an industrial zip tie, and then were apparently posed in a seated position on the pool deck, leather belts around their neck tied to a low railing to keep them from falling back into the pool. For six weeks, police seriously considered the possibility that they died of double suicide or murder suicide, before determining on January 26, 2018 that it was a “targeted” double murder.

The updates on the progress of the Sherman investigation provided in this story are drawn from an affidavit by Det.-Const. Dennis Yim, the lone full-time detective on the case. Yim filed the affidavit in the Ontario Court of Justice in support of his request that the majority of the information contained in numerous search warrant documents remain sealed. These search warrant documents contain police interviews and theories filed in court in support of police requests for additional search warrants and production orders (search warrants are for a location, production orders are for banking, cellular or other records maintained by an institution).

To maintain a seal on what now amounts to thousands of pages of documents, Yim has to prove to Justice Leslie Pringle that the police investigation would be irreparably harmed by their release. Justice Pringle is the judge who approved all the warrants and also approved the sealing of the warrants. The Star has gone to court every six months since the murders occured, arguing that at least some records should be released so that public scrutiny can be applied to the case. The Star has also noted in its arguments over the past three- and-a-half years that releasing information might actually help investigators.

Last December, Justice Pringle approved the release of hundreds of pages of documents from the first three months of the case. They contained interviews with Sherman family members, friends and business associates of the Shermans, and numerous revelations, including the fact that Ontario’s ministry of the attorney general had allowed Apotex (Barry Sherman’s company) lawyers to vet the release to police of documents and data, including information in Barry Sherman’s Blackberry and his desktop computer. This vetting by Apotex lawyers prevented homicide detectives from gaining access to the documents and data for roughly a month.

This week, the Star is arguing for more information to be released.

Yim’s affidavit, filed to prevent the release, makes several notes on the progress of the investigation, which at the start had dozens of officers assigned to the probe. He notes that he is still the only full-time officer but Det. Sgt. Brandon Price works on the case when required. “The investigation is still active and ongoing,” Yim wrote in his affidavit, while acknowledging that “to date no arrests have been made and no charges have been laid.”

After the December release of documents (which prompted a series of stories in the Star) Yim said “witnesses who have previously provided statements to the police” contacted homicide detectives with new information. Police have interviewed about 250 people so far, but nobody new for well over a year. As to the word “witnesses,” Yim has previously explained in court that it is a general term, referring to people with information on the case and not necessarily someone who saw something. Yim said that this new information has “resulted in other avenues of investigation.”

In Yim’s affidavit, he explained that police have concluded their review of information the Sherman family’s own private investigation team passed on to police after that probe was ended. Other than saying that police have “assessed its completeness,” Yim made no other comment on the information provided by a team lead by criminal lawyer Brian Greenspan. Yim makes no mention of information separately provided by son Jonathon Sherman, who has told the Star that he is engaged in his own private probe and passing information onto Price from time to time.

Yim has also revealed in his affidavit that police have made a second request to a foreign jurisdiction for assistance. Canada has Mutual Legal Assistance treaties (MLAT) with 35 countries which allow police in one country to make a request similar to a search warrant or production order to another country. Israel, the U.S., Italy, Austria and Mexico are examples of countries included in the treaty agreements. Toronto police received information from one country in May of 2020.

Now, Yim said they have made a second request, unrelated to the international request last year. Yim said Toronto police, following the treaty protocol, made their request to the Government of Canada in March 2021 and that was approved by the federal government on May 4, 2021. The request has now been sent to the “jurisdiction in possession of the material we are seeking.” Police have not revealed the name of either country involved or what they are seeking.

“I expect that this material will provide investigators evidence that will advance the investigation, and may provide the basis for future applications for judicial authorizations,” Yim wrote in his affidavit. (A ‘judicial authorization’ refers to authorization by a Canadian court to allow police to search a location, or compel data and documents using a production order.)

The Star’s challenge of the sealing orders continues in Ontario Court of Justice.

Kevin Donovan
Kevin Donovan

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