Court hears closing arguments in Shores of Erie Wine Festival trial
The Crown and defence painted two very different pictures during closing arguments for the trial for the Shores of Erie Wine Festival.
The festival corporation has pleaded not guilty to serving a minor and failing to check the identification of a minor in connection with a car crash in 2014 that claimed the life of 18-year-old Emily Bernauer.
In his final arguments in Windsor provincial offences court on Tuesday, defence lawyer Patrick Ducharme said the corporation "met all of their responsibilities" under the liquor license act and "they took every possible step to prevent underage drinking."
Durcharme said those steps included a $45,000 budget for security with dozens of police officers on site.
Bernauer was volunteering at the Amherstburg Sobey's booth, and court heard she consumed alcohol at the event.
Ducharme contends the alcohol in Bernauer's blood was from the Sobeys tent only, and not from any other vendor at the festival.
Crown attorney Scott Kerwin disagreed, saying Bernauer had easy access to alcohol. He notes she didn't use fake identification, nor did she ask her older co-workers to buy her tokens.
Kerwin contends the evidence is clear, that Bernauer bought tokens and exchanged them for drinks without identification and without wearing an age verified bracelet.
Kerwin adds the corporation was responsible for all wine on the property, including the wine in the Sobey’s tent.
Kerwin alleges "it was a free for all for vendor voluntees” and he argues the corporation violated the rules of the liquor license in "a system designed to fail."
During the trial, Amherstburg Sobey’s owner Renato Rota testified that he was asked by security if his volunteers were of legal drinking age. Rota told him they were, and soon afterwards, He was given wristbands for his volunteers.
Bernauer was wearing an age verified bracelet at the time of her death, which was just 12 days shy of her 19th birthday.
Both sides will return to court on May 15 to set a date for the ruling.