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February 7, 2013

Play tells story of Canada's Steven Truscott

MONTREAL — In 1959, Steven Truscott was sentenced to be hanged for the rape and murder of a young girl.

He was 14 years old at the time.

The Centaur Theatre and National Arts Centre present “Innocence Lost: A Play about Steven Truscott” by Beverley Cooper. The work is directed by Centaur artistic director Roy Surette and features the NAC English Theatre Acting Company.

“It’s a journey back in time looking at the story of Steven Truscott through the eyes of Sarah, a friend/bystander of the whole event,” said actress Jenny Young, who plays Sarah, the only fictional character in the work.

Making international headlines, the tale of young Truscott is considered one of Canada’s most controversial wrongful-conviction cases.

“Any of the literature that exists on the case shows that it’s an extraordinary miscarriage of justice,” Young said. “It’s just an embarrassment on the Canadian legal system.”

Because of the spotlight the case garnered, Young said, major and minor changes were made to the country’s legal system, specifically that the case contributed to the abolition of the death penalty in Canada.

Many minor changes were made, too, such as witness-identification procedures and methods for determining the time of death.

“Many little technical things,” Young said. “But it was the little technical things that ended up being major components that put Steven in jail. They fixated on the small things.”

Young said all of the evidence of the case has since been destroyed.

“There are a lot of theories as to what really happened,” Young said. “And the playwright is adamant that we don’t point any definite fingers at anyone else. Beverly feels that unless that person was put through the court of law then we have no right to say that that person did it.”

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