Series of mistakes plagues trial

Everything that could possibly go wrong in a robbery trial did on Thursday.

Everything that could possibly go wrong in a robbery trial did on Thursday.

Two Red Deer accused of the armed robbery of a city liquor store last year had their trial adjourned in provincial court because of a series of mistakes by the court, Crown and RCMP.

John Louis Umperville, 50, and Leebert Ernest Jellifo, 44, are both charged with armed robbery and being masked while committing an offence in connection with the Nov. 10, 2008, robbery of the North Liquor Barn.

The first glitch occurred when Umperville’s lawyer John MacNaughton raised objection to the presence of Judge David Plosz, who was set to hear the case.

Plosz was supposed to have been disqualified from hearing the case because he denied Umperville his release on bail shortly after his arrest.

Judges are disqualified from hearing anything further on a case if they hear the bail review because of the perception of bias.

At the bail review, MacNaughton said Plosz asked the clerk to flag the case noting his disqualification.

Secondly, and more importantly, Plosz said, was that both MacNaughton and Jellifo’s lawyer Paul Morigeau hadn’t been presented copies of video surveillance taken by a store camera of the robbery.

Two copies of the tape were in the Crown’s file but hadn’t been turned over to the defence.

The third glitch was the failure of the RCMP and Crown to provide the defence lawyers with copies of a statement of one of three civilian witnesses. That was done only moments before court opened a second time.

A day had been set aside for the trial but it was clear to the lawyers and the court that two days are needed. The Crown planned to call six RCMP officers and the three civilians.

This was the second adjournment of the trial. The first occurred on Jan. 2 because MacNaughton was ill and some witnesses weren’t present.

Morigeau said he was anxious to have the trial start immediately since Jellifo remains in custody after having his federal parole revoked because of the charges.

Umperville spent about two months in custody until he was granted bail in Court of Queen’s Bench in January.

At the time of the robbery, it was disclosed that a man wearing a mask and armed with a knife robbed the store of $110 in cash.

Two suspects were arrested shortly after.

The trial has been adjourned until Nov. 12 and 13.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com