Accused in alleged dog fighting ring seek stay of prosecution
A big development Thursday in a case involving two men charged in an alleged dog fighting ring in Tilbury.
The lawyer representing the accused is trying to have the charges stopped for what he describes as 'an unreasonable delay' in the courts.
By the time this trial is scheduled to be complete, the accused, John Robert and Michel Gagnon, will have been going through the criminal proceeding for more than 31 months.
Their lawyer is citing a Supreme Court ruling that suggests that time is too long.
The pair was arrested on Oct. 10, 2015, a day after police raided a Morris Line property, near Merlin.
An investigation resulted in a laundry list of criminal and provincial-offence charges for animal cruelty, as well as drugs and firearms offences, in relation to allegations of a dog fighting ring involving 31 pit bull-like dogs.
Thursday in court, defence lawyer Ken Marley argued his clients, Robert and Gagnon, have been in a state of uncertainty waiting too long for justice.
"For them this is 30 plus months of this hanging over their heads,” said defence lawyer Ken Marley. “They'd love to see an end to it."
Marley filed a stay of prosecution, what he calls an extreme remedy, but one he believes is appropriate when there has been unreasonable delay. The last scheduled trial date is set for May 11, which will surpass the 30-month ceiling set by the Supreme Court by one month and two days.
"The law has been made very clear by our supreme court: 30 months and that's enough."
Marley argues the evidence disclosure, which was 17,000 pages long was extensive, but not complicated. Yet Marley says it still took nearly a year for him to receive disclosure.
"At the end of the day, the judge is going to say this is a very straightforward case, and there's nothing complicating at all," Marley said.
The defence lawyer also believes undue delay was brought on by the Crown's decision to combine Gagnon and Robert’s criminal proceedings with provincial offences charges, as well as the Crown's decision to join their charges with those filed against two other accused in the case.
Marley tells CTV News neither he nor his clients caused any more than a week's delay throughout the case and is confident Justice Bruce Thomas will see it that way, too.
“Our law protects the interests of everybody in the criminal justice system by making sure criminal cases don't go on forever," said Marley.
18 of the dogs seized in the October 2015 raid have now been socialized at an animal welfare compound in Florida and are currently in the process of being adopted.
The crown did not comment on the application.
Justice Thomas will consider the pre-trial motion and will render a decision in Chatham court on Feb. 9, 2018. If Justice Thomas sides with the defence, the case will stop and Robert and Gagnon will not be found guilty.