Elementary My Dear Watson

I’m guessing that of the readers of Slaw that there is a substantial subset that are fans of the BBC series Sherlock. So, fair warning if you haven’t seen the 3rd episode of Season 3 – “His Last Vow”, stop reading before you make the jump.

Now that I am sad that there will not be any new episodes for about two years, I have been thinking more about past episodes and I have a very simple question based on Episode 3. Let’s just say for the sake of my flight of fancy that Mary shoots Charles Augustus Magnussen and kills him in his office; for the purposes of our theoretical exercise let’s say that Sherlock did not witness the shooting but due to his powers of deduction he suspects that Mary was the culprit. As usually happens with baffling cases Lestrade and company come to Holmes asking for his assistance as a consulting detective but Holmes declines. Could Sherlock be charged as a party to an offence for withholding his expertise?

Section 23 of Criminal Code states: “23. (1) An accessory after the fact to an offence is one who, knowing that a person has been a party to the offence, receives, comforts or assists that person for the purpose of enabling that person to escape.” In this scenario it would seem that Sherlock would have the necessary Mens Rea but can a consulting detective be forced to solve a crime?

Obviously for Canadian readers we will have to assume that this all occurred in London, Ont. For U.S. readers you can choose London, Ohio or London Kentucky, and hey U.K. folks can actually apply this for London, Eng.


  1. Andrew Lanouette

    My question would be whether his suspicions and deductions constitute “knowing” or if a more direct connection such as witnessing or a confession from Mary is necessary.

    Interestingly, if he is an accessory in this scenario, he would be one to Watson’s murder of the taxi driver in a Study in Pink…