OTTAWA — The father of one of Canada’s most highly decorated soldiers will face an Ontario provincial court judge today in connection with the August 2014 arrest of his son.
Bryan Fitzgerald, of Morrisburg, Ont., was accused of trying to obstruct a heavily armed police officer who arrived at the family home to arrest his son Collin, a former Canadian Forces corporal, on a charge of breaching bail conditions.
The charge was just the latest in a long-running legal drama — one that the family claims was aimed at driving the ex-soldier out of the small town south of Ottawa.
“The whole thing, as far as I’m concerned was a set up,” Fitzgerald said Tuesday in an interview. “They wanted to make sure I could no longer be Collin’s surety at his bail hearing in Cornwall, which is exactly what happened.”
Collin Fitzgerald had been released into the care of his parents after previous run-ins with the law.
In the spring of 2014, he’d been accused of intimidating a police officer and was released on bail. But on the night of July 31 that year, the empty home Fitzgerald owned with his ex-wife burned to the ground.
The Ontario Provincial Police claimed he was present and therefore in breach of his bail conditions, but did not accuse him of arson. They arrived at his parents’ home early in the morning after the fire to arrest him.
His father said the family was awakened by a telephone call stating that the police were outside. After going out to see what was going on, Bryan Fitzgerald was approached by two heavily armed police officers with weapons drawn — authorities who were no more than a couple of metres away.
He said Collin was behind him near the house, but at no point did he obstruct police before or after the arrest. He insists the only thing he asked was why Collin was being charged.
It wasn’t until he went down to the police station that one of the officers accused him of obstruction, but couldn’t explain the basis of the accusation.
Without his parents as a surety, Collin Fitzgerald was forced to move out of the area until the breach of bail charge was dealt with.
The Crown is apparently in possession of cellphone tower records and witness statements that show the former soldier, who received the Military Medal of Valour in the Afghan war, was nowhere near the fire on the night in question.
He faces trial in early December.
Ontario’s attorney general’s office has refused to comment on the case because it remains before the courts.