The three accused in Lac-Megantic disaster won’t testify at their trial

Lawyers representing the three men charged with criminal negligence in the Lac-Megantic rail disaster that killed 47 people announced in court Tuesday they won’t call any witnesses.

As a consequence, the 14 jurors were released and are scheduled to return to court Jan. 3 for closing statements from the Crown followed by the final arguments from lawyers for the accused.

Tom Harding and former colleagues Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre are each facing one count of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people.

They have all pleaded not guilty.

Thomas Walsh, a lawyer for train conductor Harding, said in an interview the defence teams decided to not call witnesses because they don’t believe the Crown met the burden of proof.

“(The Crown) had to establish beyond a reasonable doubt all the essential ingredients of the case,” Walsh said in a telephone interview from Sherbrooke, where the trial is being held.

“And the essential ingredients of this case involve a departure from a proven norm of conduct which is so great that it constitutes criminal negligence.”

On July 6, 2013, a runaway train carrying crude oil from the United States derailed in Lac-Megantic and exploded, killing 47 people and destroying part of the downtown core.

The Crown argued the locomotive weighing more than 10,000 tonnes was not properly secured, leaving it resting precariously on a slope, 10 kilometres away from downtown Lac-Megantic.

Crown prosecutor Veronique Beauchamp told the court at the beginning of the trial the three men were each criminally negligent in their own way for failing to ensure the train was safe.

Beauchamp did not want to comment on Tuesday’s developments.

“Given that the final arguments and directives (to the jury) have not taken place and that the jury is not yet sequestered, we cannot respond to your request out of respect for the court and the role of the jury in this case,” she said.

Walsh said the jurors were sent home before the holidays in order to “preserve the serenity of the deliberations.”

“We didn’t want to pick a timetable that would put them in a position where in order to get free by Christmas they were going to have to come up with a relatively hasty verdict,” he said.

The defence teams should complete their closing statements by Jan. 5, which would allow the jurors to begin deliberating after receiving instructions from the trial judge the following Monday, he added.

The disaster led to hundreds of millions of dollars in clean-up and reconstruction costs as well as the bankruptcy of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, the company that owned and operated the tracks.

Just Posted

Red Deer RCMP investigate reports of a weapon

Collicutt Centre and high schools reopen

Energy regulator says crude-by-rail shipments fell to 310,000 bpd in August

CALGARY — The Canada Energy Regulator says exports of crude oil by… Continue reading

Red Deer ICU included in leading-edge study

Looking at standard versus accelerated dialysis in critically ill patients

UN report highlights ‘abhorrent’ housing conditions for Indigenous people

A United Nations report is highlighting the role “abhorrent” housing conditions play… Continue reading

Lane closures on 49th Avenue in Red Deer on Tuesday

City crews start working near Baymont Inn and Suites

WATCH: Red Deer Citizens on Patrol monitoring downtown with new program

Volunteers will patrol downtown Red Deer to help keep the city safe.… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday The Small Business Centre at Burman University’s School of Business invites… Continue reading

Health: What should I mix with my rum?

Have I been leading readers astray? For years this column has stressed… Continue reading

Family: Reflections on Thanksgiving and other holidays

With Thanksgiving over and done with its time to get on with… Continue reading

Blondin adds to medal tally at Canadian speedskating championships

CALGARY — Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin won a pair of gold medals on… Continue reading

Hofbauer, Pidhoresky qualify for marathon event at Tokyo 2020 Games

TORONTO — Calgary’s Trevor Hofbauer and Vancouver’s Dayna Pidhoresky are Tokyo bound.… Continue reading

Mike Downie says Secret Path Live was ‘powerful’ and he’d ‘love to do it again’

TORONTO — A brother of the late Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie… Continue reading

Taika Waititi says ‘Jojo Rabbit’ isn’t a ‘challenging’ take on the Holocaust

TORONTO — “Jojo Rabbit” director Taika Waititi is laying flat on the… Continue reading

RDC Queens honour graduating players, fall in season finale

Rattlers 6 Queens 0 It’s been a rough tumble to the end… Continue reading

Most Read