Liam C. O’Connor was called to the Bar in 1995 after completing his Law Degree at the University of Windsor in 1993. Prior to this, he completed Bachelor Degrees in English (1986) and Political Science (1986), as well as History (1989), all at the University of Calgary.
In a little over twenty-five years, Mr. O’Connor has become one of Toronto’s most successful criminal trial lawyers.
Mr. O’Connor has defended more than forty jury trials to verdict that have resulted in no convictions, as well as having successfully conducted literally hundreds of Superior Court and Ontario Court of Justice trial defences. He has not avoided those cases considered difficult, controversial or unpopular.
In 2005 he successfully obtained jury acquittals for a young man facing charges that included the attempted murder of a Toronto police officer who was shot at (but thankfully not physically injured) during the course of a drug investigation (R. v. D.M.). As well, he made headlines in 2005 while successfully defending a youth charged with committing Hate Crimes for the desecration of a North York cemetery (R. v. A.P.). In 2003, he traveled to Thunder Bay to secure complete acquittals for a local Hells Angels’ Sgt.-at-Arms charged with conspiring to kill two local businessmen (R. v. P.M.). Mr. O’Connor returned to Thunder Bay in March of 2016 when he successfully defended a client for what is, to date, the largest ever seizure of cocaine in that city. After a week-long trial, it took a jury only a few hours to clear his client of all charges (R. v. K.J.).
Mr. O’Connor has not been afraid to defend some of the country’s most despised and feared individuals. He has defended more than forty murder cases as well as so-called gang members and organized crime figures and has represented a number of dangerous offenders, including Canada’s highest scoring psychopath on the Dr. R. Hare standardized test for psychopathy (R. v. M.L.).
His successes in defending those charged with murder have been most impressive.
In 1999, after he obtained a statement from the Crown’s main witness recanting her earlier testimony in the matter of R. v. R.W., the charge of Second Degree Murder was withdrawn against Mr. W. in Toronto’s Superior Court of Justice.
In 2001, Mr. O’Connor obtained a verdict of Not Criminally Responsible for his client who faced a charge of First Degree Murder in the matter of R. v. A.A..
In 2004 he obtained one of the few known successful directed verdict murder acquittals in the matter of R. v. A.W.. Following more than two years in custody, Mr. W. was set free on Mr. O’Connor’s motion at the close of the Crown’s case. Mr. W. had faced the charge of Second Degree Murder.
The year 2006 saw him obtain a complete jury acquittal in the First Degree Murder jury trial of R. v. G.S.. Of the three parties charged with the crime, the only accused to walk free and escape a conviction and a life sentence in a penitentiary was Mr. S..
That matter was followed in 2007 with another complete acquittal of a youth charged with Second Degree Murder in the jury trial of R. v. G.T.. The youth walked free of all charges after twenty-six months in custody awaiting trial.
In June of 2008, Mr. O’Connor travelled to Windsor, Ontario, to successfully defend charges of Second Degree Murder and Attempted Murder in the matter of R. v. A.P.. After more than three years in custody, Mr. P. walked free when a jury returned verdicts of not guilty on both charges. This was the second trial for Mr. P. on the matter. At the earlier trial, where the accused had not used Mr. O’Connor as defence counsel, he had been found guilty of one count and the jury had been unable to reach a verdict on the second count. While serving a penitentiary sentence for the charge for which he was convicted, he successfully appealed the matter and chose Mr. O’Connor as trial counsel for the retrial. It proved to be a wise choice.
In March of 2009, he obtained acquittals for two counts of murder in the case of R. v. L.D.. Arrested and charged with one count of First Degree Murder and one count of Second Degree Murder, Mr. L. D. spent twenty months in custody before a jury returned verdicts of not guilty to both charges and the youth walked from the prisoner’s dock into the arms of his crying and grateful mother.
Next, Mr. O’Connor commenced a trial for a youth accused of Second Degree Murder in September of 2009. The matter completed in February of 2010 when the charge of murder was dismissed in the Superior Court of Justice and the youth entered a plea to one count of aggravated assault (R. v. T.M.) and was released from custody shortly thereafter.
In June of 2010, Mr. O’Connor was set to begin a month-long preliminary inquiry for an accused charged with Second Degree Murder. On his second day of appearances, the charge of murder was withdrawn by the Crown in the Ontario Court of Justice (R. v. A.M.) leaving the accused free of all jeopardy.
Likewise, in September of 2010, Mr. O’Connor was prepared to commence the First Degree Murder trial in the matter of R. v. C.W.. After a month-long preliminary inquiry in 2009, and after twenty-six months in custody, the Crown entered a stay of proceedings to the charge of murder in the Superior Court of Justice on the first day of trial and Mr. W. walked free and home to his family.
In the spring of 2011, Mr. O’Connor completed a month long preliminary inquiry into murder allegations in the matter of R. v. A.N.. Although the Crown had sought committal for trial on charges of First Degree Murder and several counts of Attempted Murder, the presiding Justice accepted Mr. O’Connor’s committal arguments and Mr. N. was freed and discharged on each and every count.
Unfortunately for Mr. N., the Crown Attorney’s Office successfully appealed those discharges and Mr. N. found himself back before the Superior Court of Justice to face the charges once again. Thankfully, a jury found Mr. N. not guilty of all charges in the summer of 2014. Mr. N. was finally free following a harrowing four-year legal odyssey.
The year 2012 saw continued success. Following the commencement of the First Degree Murder trial in the matter of R. v. S.T. in September, the Crown ultimately accepted a plea to the lesser count of Manslaughter and Mr. T. avoided a life sentence and obtained a significantly reduced period in custody. He was released from jail and returned to society in 2014.
This was followed by the matter of R. v. C.P. in December of 2012. Mr. P. had spent nine months in custody and faced a charge of First Degree Murder and numerous firearms’ charges. All charges, including the murder allegation, were withdrawn at the Scarborough courthouse and Mr. P. stepped from the prisoner’s dock and home to his mother on Christmas Eve.
Mr. O’Connor’s representation of A.H. in 2013 met with equally positive results. Charged with First Degree Murder, Mr. O’Connor cross-examined only the main witness at Mr. H.’s preliminary inquiry but that was enough. Shortly before the commencement of trial, the Crown Attorney’s Office accepted a plea to a lesser count of Accessory After the Fact and the charge of First Degree Murder was withdrawn. Mr. A.H. stepped from custody in less than two years and is back with his family and friends.
In 2014, a similar result was obtained in the matter of R. v. D.Q.. Following a preliminary inquiry, and after a little more than a year in custody, the Brampton Crown Attorney’s office accepted a plea to the lesser count of Manslaughter and Mr. Q. successfully avoided a life sentence. Mr. Q. has since been released from custody. Mr. Q. had originally been arrested and charged with First Degree Murder.
The year 2015 proved to be just as rewarding. Following the infamous Danzig Barbecue murders and shooting from the summer of 2012, Mr. S.M. was charged with two counts of First Degree Murder as well as twenty-two counts of attempted murder or aggravated assault arising from allegations against the associated victims who were not killed. In January of 2015, Mr. S.M.’s prayers were answered and the two charges of First Degree Murder were withdrawn, along with the associated charges relating to the other victims. With Mr. O’Connor as counsel, and as a result a careful review by an utterly distinguished and professional Scarborough Crown Attorney’s Office in conjunction with a tireless, thorough and superlative Toronto Homicide unit, Mr. M. avoided the potential of two life sentences that would likely have led to a no parole order being made available to him for fifty years. Mr. M. ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser, associated charge and has since completed his sentence.
The fall of 2015 saw added success when a charge of Second Degree Murder was completely withdrawn in the matter of R. v. I.M.. After being charged with Second Degree Murder in the fall of 2014, Mr. O’Connor had his client home on a bail release by January of the following year and the matter completed by October when a professional and conscientious Brampton Crown’s office saw fit to withdraw all charges against Mr. M. and leave him free to return to a normal and productive life.
In February of 2016, a young Mr. S.M. found some light at the end of a long tunnel when his matter was completed. Originally arrested and charged with Second Degree Murder, the Crown Attorney’s office announced they would be seeking an Adult Sentence for the accused. However, after a two-week preliminary inquiry where Mr. O’Connor cross-examined more than a dozen witnesses, a thoughtful Crown Attorney’s office reconsidered their original position and theory of liability and accepted a plea to a reduced charge of Manslaughter. Furthermore, the Crown Attorney’s office agreed that the accused only be subject to a Youth Sentence and withdrew their application for an Adult Sentence. The young man has since been released from custody.
In October of 2017, Mr. O’Connor began the murder trial of N.W.. Originally arrested on a charge of First Degree Murder, following Mr. O’Connor’s representation at N.W.’s preliminary inquiry, a thoughtful and professional Halton Crown Attorney’s office only sought a trial in the Superior Court of Justice on a charge of Manslaughter. Then, following a two-week trial, a jury found N.W. not guilty of the remaining Manslaughter charge and N.W. walked to freedom.
In the first Toronto murder charge of 2018, Mr. O’Connor represented A.K., on charges of Second Degree Murder. Suffering from severe Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Mr. O’Connor ensured that the aging A.K. never saw a day in formal custody. Instead, A.K. was immediately hospitalized and then detained in a non-custodial psychiatric setting. Immediately retaining his own experts, Mr. O’Connor was able to secure a result of Not Criminally Responsible for A.K. This allowed a frail Mr. K. to spend his final days in a safe and comfortable non-custodial setting.
Later in 2018, Mr. O’Connor was set to begin a First Degree Murder of W.A.. Mr. A. had endured two previous trials and had already served almost 11 years of a life sentence, having been convicted of First Degree Murder at his second trial. Successfully appealing that conviction, W.A. chose Mr. O’Connor as his lawyer for the third trial. However, shortly before commencing that third trial, Mr. O’Connor, working with a professional and reasonable Scarborough Crown Attorney’s Office, negotiated a plea for Mr. A. that resulted in Mr. A. walking immediately to freedom without a conviction for murder, and free from a life sentence. Mr. O’Connor’s last contact with W.A. following a plea to Manslaughter was a picture he received from his client showing Mr. A. playing on a beach with his child in the Caribbean.
In 2020, M.B. was charged in Toronto with First Degree Murder. The evidence consisted of a video tape capturing the murder on Danforth Avenue, corroborated by four Thunder Bay Police officers who purported to be able to absolutely, and independently, identify M.B. from the video surveillance of the murder as a result of past dealings with M.B.. Following a preliminary inquiry into the matter during which Mr. O’Connor cross-examined all four officers, the Toronto Crown Attorney’s office sought time to review and reconsider the evidence following the hearing. In May of 2021, the matter was back in court at which time, the Crown Attorney’s office advised there was no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction and the charge of First Degree Murder was withdrawn. M.B. immediately stepped out of custody and back to freedom.
At the end the summer of 2020, A.L.N. was charged with First Degree Murder in Kitchener, Ontario, and retained Mr. O’Connor to defend him. Eighteen months later, Mr. O’Connor had successfully had the matter reduced to one charge of Manslaughter. A.L.N. was sentenced for the lesser charge and will be returned to his family shortly, successfully having avoided a life sentence.
In 2021, Y.L. was charged with First Degree Murder and Attempted Murder and retained Mr. O’Connor for her defence. In January of 2022, Mr. O’Connor successfully obtained a bail release for Y.L. in the Superior Court in Hamilton, Ontario. Y.L.’s trial is expected to commence in late 2023 or early 2024.
Similarly, Mr. O’Connor returned to Windsor, Ontario in 2020, to defend H.M. on charges of First Degree Murder and Attempted Murder. Following a preliminary inquiry into the matter, Mr. O’Connor was successful in having the charge of First Degree Murder reduced to Second Degree Murder. Moreover, he also obtained a bail release for H.M., whose trial is expected to commence in the Spring of 2023.
Mr. O’Connor has appeared at every level of Ontario Court and made trial appearances in all corners of Ontario. He has been counsel on a number of reported cases dealing with the exclusion of evidence as a result of successful defences that asserted Charter violations of his clients’ rights. As well, he has been notable in successfully excluding alleged confessions by his clients in matters where the Courts found either significant voluntariness or right to counsel Charter violations. He has been particularly successfully in defending those accused of sexual assault and of defending young women accused of importing narcotics into Canada.
Mr. O’Connor has been heavily involved with speaking to local high school students and judging mock student trials.
He has been a regular guest speaker for the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Criminal Lawyers Association (C.L.A.) of Ontario, the Ontario Bar Association (O.B.A.), the Hamilton Criminal Lawyers Association (H.C.L.A) , Queens University Law School, Ryerson University, the Ontario Justice Education Network (O.J.E.N.) and Law Society of Ontario (L.S.O.) on criminal matters.
He has travelled throughout Canada and the United States to assist clients in need, as well as Europe, the Caribbean and the Far East.
Liam O’Connor can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 416-220-9364.
(Note: Past results do not guarantee future results and every case must be judged on its own merits. Still, you have to like your chances with Liam…)