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No criminal charges in death of man who waited 33 hours in Winnipeg ER

Rob Sinclair (left) , cousin of Brian Sinclair, a homeless man who died after a 34-hour wait in an emergency ward, and Vilko Zbogar, Toronto-based lawyer for the Sinclair family, are shown outside the Winnipeg Law Courts, Tuesday, Nov.17, 2009.

Mike Deal/The Canadian Press

Criminal charges will not be laid in the death of a Winnipeg man who waited for 33 hours in a hospital emergency room.

Police say an external review by the Crown attorney's office in Saskatchewan has found no basis for laying charges in the death of Brian Sinclair.

Mr. Sinclair was a 45-year-old double amputee who died of a treatable gall bladder infection in September 2008.

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Hospital security tape showed Mr. Sinclair went to the triage desk and spoke to an aide before wheeling himself into the waiting room.

Some 33 hours later, another person in the waiting room approached a security guard to say Mr. Sinclair appeared to be dead.

Winnipeg police say more than 170 people were interviewed during a 10-month investigation.

Police concluded the investigation last fall, but wouldn't say at the time what — if any — recommendations were made on whether charges were warranted.

Const. Natalie Aitkin said the Sinclair case was unique with "unusual circumstances and a legal opinion is required to determine if charges should be laid or not."

Manitoba Justice officials appeared to feel the same way and sent the file to Saskatchewan's Crown attorney office, although Attorney General Andrew Swan said ultimately the decision on whether to lay charged would be made by police.

The investigation began after pressure from Clayton Ruby, one of Canada's top defence lawyers. Mr. Ruby said it was "inexplicable and shocking" that Winnipeg police did not fully investigate what happened in Mr. Sinclair's case.

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An inquest has been called into Mr. Sinclair's death, but was put on hold until the criminal investigation was complete.

The inquest is expected to touch on a number of issues at the heart of Canadian health care, as well as determine why Mr. Sinclair died and what can be done to prevent similar deaths.

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