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Rao appeal thrown out

A BC court has refused to hear an appeal from the only suspect acquitted of manslaughter in the 2001 beating death of Aaron Webster.

Danny Rao was one of two adults charged with manslaughter in the gay man’s killing. His co-accused, Ryan Cran, was convicted and sentenced to six years in jail last year. In her December 2004 ruling, BC Supreme Court Justice Mary Humphries said she had no choice but to acquit Rao because there was too much reasonable doubt to find him guilty.

Though the Crown’s two star witnesses clearly put Rao at the scene of the crime as an active participant, the judge ruled their testimony could not be trusted.

Five months before the trial began, Rao threatened another key witness in the case and was convicted of obstructing justice. He was sentenced to time already served awaiting trial, lost his bail and returned to jail to further await the manslaughter trial.

Rao appealed his obstruction conviction in July 2004.

Earlier this month, the BC Court of Appeal refused to hear it. The panel of justices said they found no error of law in the judge’s decision and threw Rao’s case out, Mar 3.

Court records show that Rao’s conviction for obstructing justice was not his first conviction.

Before he was acquitted in the Webster case, Rao was sentenced to three days in jail in September 2004 for trespassing at night. He had originally been charged with breaking and entering into a Burnaby building and committing an indictable offense-arson-but was convicted of the lesser charge. Those charges stemmed from an October 2002 incident.

Webster died in the arms of his friend of 15 years, Tim Chisholm, near the entrance to Stanley Park’s gay cruising trails. A small, painted memorial still marks the spot.