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Corner Brook Judge rejects application for directed verdict in Wood Point fish plant case

Gavel and scales.
Gavel and scales. - 123RF Stock Photo

A court case that started six years ago will likely move into its seventh year now that a Corner Brook judge has dismissed an application for a directed verdict.

Twenty-eight charges were laid against four defendants — Woody Point fish plant 3Ts Limited, owner Todd Young, John Roberts and Gauvin and Noel Compagnie Ltee. — in February 2012 alleging that the fishing enterprises misreported how much herring was being landed at the 3T’s plant between October and December 2010. The Crown’s case purported that the amount of fish shipped from the plant in Woody Point was more than what was being reported at the time the catch was landed.

3Ts Limited, Young and Roberts were each charged with eight offences — six counts of failure to comply with the condition of a licence and one count each of making a false statement to a fisheries official and a fisheries observer unlawfully transmitting falsified information.

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Gauvin and Noel Compagnie Ltee., which has the same address as 3Ts, was charged with two counts of failure to comply with the condition of a licence and one each of making a false statement to a fisheries official and a fisheries observer unlawfully transmitting falsified information.

Evidence had been heard over 60 days of trial and more than 100 exhibits, including documents and video, were presented by the time the Crown completed its case in February.

At the time, defence lawyer Robby Ash asked for a directed verdict alleging insufficiency of the Crown evidence and suggesting that the parties alleged to be accessories after the fact should have been charged as such and charged separately and that the charges be dismissed.

After studying the matter since February, Judge Kymil Howe rejected that application during an appearance in provincial court on Thursday afternoon.

Howe said the Crown had presented a combination of video footage, documents and testimony to set forth a theory to support its allegations of under reporting of catch.

Leaving the question that could the evidence, if believed, support an inference the accused are guilty of the offences of which they have been charged?

“Having reviewed the evidence I have come to the conclusion that the answer must be yes,” she said.

She noted it’s important to keep in mind that the court not go one step further to say it believes the testimony of any witness or will it say what weight will be given to such evidence.

She said it is sufficient at this juncture that the Crown has documentary evidence to offer with respect to licensing, dates of fishing, tally sheets for offloading and bills for shipping in conjunction with the explanation of the video surveillance and plant operation presented by a fisheries officer.

As for the second part of the application that suggests the accuseds should be charged separately as accessories after the fact and not as charged on the present information, Howe said the theory presented by the Crown is one of the accused persons acting in concert. She said there has been no reference of them entering the fray after the offence was committed. 

“I cannot find anything in the evidence thus far to suggest that either of the accused named should be described as accessory after the fact.”

The trial is tentatively scheduled to continue from Feb. 4-8, 2019, at which time the defence will present its case. The matter will be called again on Sept. 5 for status to determine if it the trial can be resumed earlier.

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