Second day of deliberations in the trial of the three ex-employees of the MMA

News 12 January, 2018
  • Photo courtesy Sûreté du Québec

    Jean-François Desbiens

    Friday, January 12, 2018 13:18

    Friday, January 12, 2018 13:18

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    SHERBROOKE | In this second day of deliberations in the trial of the three ex-employees of the MMA accused of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people in Lac-Mégantic in July 2013, the eight men and four women of the jury have still not manifested.

    • READ ALSO : Tom Harding has been suspended 5 days in 2008 for failing to tighten the hand brakes on a convoy

    The jurors have not addressed any question to the judge Gaetan Dumas since Thursday morning.

    Prior to the trial that began on October 2, the prosecution had attempted to introduce into evidence the fact that Thomas Harding, the engineer of the locomotive, had already been sanctioned in the past by his employer for not having secured it properly to the cars and did not comply with the safety rules of the company.

    The judge refused to admit these elements and the suspension letter, which the jurors are unaware of the existence.

    The incident dates back to July 2008 in a yard in the CN Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

    The then head of the train, Thomas Harding, and a CN employee had failed to tighten the hand brakes on the 58 cars that they came to stop in a binding way.

    The convoy was set in motion to go crashing into another train.

    In an email exchange with John Demaître, also accused in this trial, a vice-president of the MMA had asked the former director of transportation of the company to perform more checks on the ground with its employees to prevent these accidents.

    Thomas Harding had been suspended for five days and placed on probation for a year.

    “Consider this letter as a warning, and any new incident or failure to comply with rules of this nature, will not be tolerated and will result in further sanctions which could go as termination of employment (sic) “, read the disciplinary notice.

    For the lawyer-criminal lawyer Patrick Fréchette, the judge Gaetan Dumas has made the right decision. This letter could not be considered as evidence of similar act, given the passage of time, five years, and especially the circumstances of the incident that differ from the tragic events of Lac-Mégantic.

    “It would not have allowed that to proof of propensity to commit an offence on the part of the accused, while it has nothing to do with the offence in question. In five years, he may have learned from this incident. It could adversely influence the thinking of jurors, and in criminal law, it is prohibited. It would have constituted a ground of appeal seriously to the defence and with excellent chances of success if she had been admitted, and Thomas Harding had been found guilty. The reverse is much less plausible for the prosecution in the case of an acquittal. “