Top News

Judge rejects bikers’ application to throw out charges

Three accused Vikings Motorcycle Club members and their supporters hide their faces in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's Monday morning, after their application to have their charges thrown out due to an unreasonable delay was rejected by the judge.
Three accused Vikings Motorcycle Club members and their supporters hide their faces in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's Monday morning, after their application to have their charges thrown out due to an unreasonable delay was rejected by the judge. - Tara Bradbury

Vince Leonard Sr., Wayne Johnson and James Curran will go to trial next week

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

A Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court judge has rejected a bid from three accused Vikings Motorcycle Club members to have their drug charges thrown out.

Vince Leonard Sr., Wayne Johnson and James Curran had applied to have the charges against them dismissed under the Jordan ruling, which gives superior courts 30 months to deal with criminal matters. The three men were charged on Sept. 28, 2016.

However, Justice David Hurley ruled Monday morning that the delays in this case were not unreasonable or, in part, foreseeable, and dismissed the Jordan application.

The 2016 Jordan decision set the 30-month deadline with exceptions made for reasonable delay. A Jordan application can only be successful if the delays are proven to not have been the fault of the defence.

Representing the three accused, lawyers Mike King, Mark Gruchy and John Hartery told the court that much of the disclosure in the case — hundreds of thousands of pages of documents — was not given to them by the Crown until last October.

The accused had been scheduled to go to trial Jan. 15 of this year. Proceedings were postponed after their lawyers successfully argued they didn't have enough time to review the 60,000 pages they received in the fall in order to build a defence.

Prosecutors Elaine Reid and Trevor Bridger told the court the delay wasn't solely the Crown's responsibility, pointing out Gruchy was unable to fit the preliminary hearing into his schedule at one point, delaying proceedings by 10 weeks.

The case was also delayed after Bridger fell ill for two periods of time, totalling just under two months.

"Mr. Johnson's delay of 10 weeks is one that cannot be blamed on the Crown or on the process," the judge ruled. "With respect to Mr. Bridger's illness, while I'm not convinced that the full period is applicable, certainly I am of the view that these periods are reasonable to deduct from the presumptive ceiling. These things happen, and really, there's nothing you can do about them."

The complexity of the case also justified some delay, Hurley ruled, noting "the number of charges, the type of evidence involved, and the details of the disclosure that would not be involved in an ordinary case."

Leonard Sr., Curran and Johnson were three of 10 men alleged to be members or associates of the Vikings and charged as part of Operation Bombard, after police executed search warrants at a handful of locations in St. John's and Cupids. Among the items seized were cocaine, oxycodone pills, temazepam pills and a powder that contained fentanyl, as well as eight motorcycles, two pickup trucks, cash, weapons, photos and Vikings vests.

They are the last three of the accused to have their day in court, and are set to go to a five-week jury trial starting April 8. In the meantime, the court will deal with another pre-trial application by the Crown later this week.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


Related story:
Judge to rule Monday on case of alleged Vikings

Recent Stories