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Estates and Trusts Reports. Volume 20 (1986), p. 165-179.


The decision of Trainor J. of the British Columbia Supreme Court in Rosenfeldt v. Olson (1984), 20 E.T.R. 133, is boldly innovative. Having murdered 11 children, Clifford Olson agreed to provide incriminating information concerning the remains of his victims to the R.C.M.P. in exchange for the payment of money into a trust held for the benefit of his wife and child. No doubt legal advisors on both sides of this transaction had some reason to believe that its structure would, or at least might, prevent the application of the general principle that a person who wrongfully kills another will not be allowed to enjoy profit resulting from the act of killing. Nonetheless, the plaintiff parents of the victims pursued a claim based, in part, on this principle against Olson, his wife, and the two lawyers who assisted Olson in this matter, McNeney who agreed to act as trustee and Shantz, his defence counsel, who provided initial advice with respect to the structure of the transaction. Trainor J. ultimately held that the trust fund, at the time of its creation, became impressed with a constructive trust in favour of the plaintiffs in order to "remove it" from the wrongdoer Olson, from those collaborating with him, i.e., McNeney and Shantz, and from those whose claim is through him, i.e., his wife and their child.

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