The threat of an acquittal is looming large over a drug case in St. John’s, as three alleged drug-dealing bikers have filed to postpone their trial.
Lawyers for the men accused of being key members in the Vikings motorcycle gang say there is no way they can be ready for the trial date of Jan. 15, after the Crown handed over 60,000 pages of diclosure in October.
If the delay is granted and stretches the matter beyond March 28, charges could be stayed because of the Jordan decision — a ruling that ordered Supreme Court trials must begin within 30 months of charges being laid.
“We’re always concerned about Jordan dates and things like that,” said federal Crown prosecutor Trevor Bridger. “So we’ll just proceed with the applications and see where we are.”
There will be a domino effect
– Mike King, defence lawyer
Justice David Hurley will hear the defence’s arguments for a postponement on Monday.
The three accused — Vince Leonard Sr., James Curran and Wayne Johnson — were arrested on Sept. 28, 2016, as part of a citywide raid resulting in charges against a dozen members of the Vikings motorcycle club.
The defence lawyers say there isn’t enough time to handle all the pre-trial applications before Jan. 15.
Mike King, representing Leonard Sr., is filing a separate application calling for the Crown to turn over information on a police agent used in the investigation.
If that application is successful, King said they’ll need time to deal with the new information turned over as a result, before any further applications can be heard.
Attacking the evidence
After that, the defence has a series of pre-trial applications planned to attack how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Royal Newfoundland Constabulary obtained the evidence the case is built on.
If the first of those challenges is successful, King said it will cancel out evidence the police used to obtain subsequent warrants.
“There will be a domino effect,” he told Justice David Hurley. “If we’re successful with that one, there could be a second one, a third one, a fourth one.”
Rather than starting trial on Jan. 15, as was originally planned, King said he’d be ready to start dealing with the pre-trial applications in February, and go to trial after that.
Bridger said he couldn’t comment on the likelihood of the delay being granted. All three defence lawyers on the case declined comment until after Monday’s hearing.
“It’s fairly routine-type stuff, but big files like this, big matters like this it tends to snowball,” Bridger said. “It can get very large and very cumbersome.”
If the postponement is granted, it wouldn’t be the first significant delay for the Vikings case.
The preliminary inquiry was supposed to take four days, but sick days and scheduling conflicts stretched it over six months.