At trial, however, the youths recanted their videotaped statements and claimed they had lied to exculpate themselves. The trial judge followed the orthodox rule for prior inconsistent statements, and only permitted the jury to use the statements to impeach credibility rather than prove a fact. K.G.B. was acquitted and the decision was upheld on appeal.
The issue before the Supreme Court of Canada was whether the recorded statements could be submitted as evidence to the truth of their contents under the principled exception to hearsay.
The principled exception to hearsay, as outlined in R. v. Khan and R. v. Smith (1992), requires that the statement be reliable and necessary. Lamer adopted these two criteria in formulating the test for admitting prior inconsistent statements. First, "if the statement is made under oath, solemn affirmation or solemn declaration following an explicit warning to the witness as to the existence of severe criminal sanctions for the making of a false statement". Second, "if the statement is videotaped in its entirety". Third, "if the opposing party, whether the Crown or the defence, has a full opportunity to cross‑examine the witness at trial respecting the statement".
The Chief Justice also made clear that substitute reliability guarantors could be accepted in place of these strict guidelines, in certain cases.