The Boy on the Bicycle: A Case of Wrongful Conviction in Toronto, Nate Hendley’s insightful and painstakingly researched book, is now available for pre-order through Five Rivers and your favourite online bookseller, in both print and digital.
On September 15, 1956, seven year-old Wayne Mallette was murdered on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. The main suspect was a boy on a bicycle seen pedaling away from the CNE.
Authorities quickly zeroed in on Ron Moffatt, a 14 year-old former CNE employee.
Moffatt was picked up by police and interrogated without a parent or lawyer present. Under duress, Moffatt confessed to Mallette’s murder. He was convicted in late 1956 on little more than this coerced admission.
In truth, Moffatt couldn’t ride a bike and didn’t commit the crime. Two more children were murdered in Toronto before the real culprit—notorious sex offender and serial killer Peter Woodcock—was arrested.
In separate trials in the spring of 1957, Woodcock was convicted and Moffatt acquitted.
While free, Moffatt never received compensation or an apology. Nor is the public aware of his plight—tried as a juvenile, Moffatt’s name was never mentioned in media coverage of his case.
This is the first complete book about Ron Moffatt. It’s a story that involves a fumbled investigation, a false confession and the star lawyer who fought for Moffatt’s release. Sources include police files, interviews, original newspaper coverage, reports, books and television documentaries.
About the Author of The Boy on the Bicycle
Nate Hendley is the author of The Boy on the Bicycle.
A Toronto-based freelance reporter, Hendley has written for the National Post, The Globe and Mail, Business in Focus magazine, eye weekly and Maclean’s magazine.
He is the author of several books, primarily in the true-crime genre. Hendley’s titles include The Big Con: Great Hoaxes, Frauds, Grifts and Swindles in American History, Al Capone: Chicago’s King of Crime, Steven Truscott: Decades of Injustice and The Mafia: A Guide to an American Subculture.
Q and A with Ron Moffatt
(NATE HENDLEY): What do you personally hope to get out of this book?
A. This year I finally get to be “heard”. I feel that is important as I have lived with this locked up inside of me for over 60 years. The experience of 1956 had a very negative affect on my life. Corresponding with you about the details I can remember has been therapeutic for me. It’s like I purged myself of all the negativity. It would be nice if somehow the justice system decided I deserved financial compensation for the wrongful conviction, but I have come to the conclusion that will never happen.
Q. What do you hope readers get out of the book?
A. I hope whoever reads this book discovers how easy it is for anyone to become a victim of the justice system (over-zealous police in a hurry to solve a crime and get it off the books).
Q. What can Canadian authorities do to reduce the risk of wrongful convictions in future?
A. [Often, the] accused is not able to afford proper legal representation and has to depend on a public defender who is probably already loaded down with a 100 other cases. Anyone who is arrested and brought into an interrogation room should have a legal representative present before any questioning by the police can proceed. I therefore suggest that any confession obtained by police without the presence of legal counsel should not be admissible in a court of law
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your life right now?
A. I am now presently retired, live in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and have been married to my second wife for 38 years. We live comfortably, enjoy gardening and do editorial cartoons for the local media. I’m a real homebody and only travel to see family and friends in Southern Ontario once a year.
The Boy on the Bicycle launches August 1, 2018 at the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 2G8. Details regarding the launch can be found on Five Rivers’ blog, and through the Facebook Event Page.