More than a year after being blamed for excessive trial delays that led to the collapse of corruption charges against six Toronto drug squad officers, the Crown is pointing its finger back at police.

Although the case spent four years and three weeks in the justice system, the officers and their lawyers engineered 23 months of that delay to give themselves time to prepare for the first stage of the court process — the preliminary hearing followed by the trial, the Ontario Court of Appeal was told yesterday.

They got what they wanted, Crown counsel Kenneth Campbell argued before a three-judge panel as two of the officers, retired Staff Sgt. John Schertzer and Det. Const. Steve Correia, watched from the back of the courtroom.

Together with four other members of the Central Field Command Drug Squad, they were accused five years ago of assaulting and robbing suspects, conducting illegal searches and falsifying their police reports to avoid any hint of wrongdoing.

The case, described as Canada’s biggest police corruption scandal, fell apart 19 months ago when Justice Ian Nordheimer of the Superior Court of Justice stayed all charges, saying the years it had taken to move the case through the courts had violated the officers’ right to a trial within a reasonable time.

The trial delays were caused by the Crown’s failure to disclose evidence to the defence, the judge found.