Preliminary inquiry for North River murder could move to St. John’s

Provincial court judge critical of conditions at Harbour Grace courthouse


Published on February 17, 2017

Allan Potter, left, and Daniel Leonard, right, are accused of murdering North River resident Dale Porter.

©TC Media file photo

A two-week preliminary inquiry for two men accused of murdering a man in North River will likely move to St. John’s.

The Crown prosecutor in the case against Allan Winfield Potter and Daniel Edward Leonard brought up that idea Friday at Harbour Grace Provincial Court. The week before, charges against the two men in relation to the death of Dale Porter were upgraded to first-degree murder.

While lawyers handling the case agreed to book a two-week preliminary inquiry in Harbour Grace starting Nov. 20, it looks like they will attempt to move that to St. Johns.

The November court date would come more than a year after Potter and Leonard were originally arrested and charged. A Supreme Court ruling last year on the admissibility of proceeding with cases taking too long to make their way through the courts has forced lawyers and judges to try and expedite matters where possible. Justice Minister Andrew Parsons cited the R. vs. Jordan ruling as a factor last year in the reversal of an earlier decision to close the Harbour Grace courthouse.

Judge Bruce Short handles just about all matters at Harbour Grace Provincial Court.
TC Media file photo

Picking up on the topic of managing the court’s schedule, Judge Bruce Short took some time Friday to air grievances. He said people going through the justice system in Harbour Grace are treated differently than elsewhere and suggested there’s a great need for a second courtroom.

Short noted there is considerable square footage in the Babb Building, where the province has a 10-year lease. He’s of the understanding it would take two weeks to do the work necessary to set up a second courtroom.

Short would also like to have the courthouse equipped with a prisoner’s cell. He made note of a situation the previous day where a person in custody had to sit through a lengthy bail hearing for a fellow prisoner.

“It’s a disgrace,” Short said.

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Potter and Leonard both remain in custody.

editor@cbncompass.ca