Magistrate Eileen Nervik dismissed charges against two defendants in two separate matters on Wednesday.
Each man had been scheduled to stand trial in Traffic Court, but the police officers who would have been Crown witnesses did not attend.
In the first case, the defendant had pleaded not guilty to speeding. He was accused of driving 53 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone on a date in February 2016. His trial was set for Nov. 3. On that date, the court file shows, no Crown witnesses were present. The defendant did not attend until 12:30 p.m., although court starts at 10 a.m.
He maintained his not guilty plea, the magistrate vacated a warrant for his arrest, and the trial was re-scheduled for Jan. 25. The officer in the case was served another summons on Nov. 18, advising him of the new date.
On Jan. 25 – Wednesday – the defendant was in court, but as of 11:15 a.m., the officer was not present. The magistrate dismissed the charge.
Later, the case was called of a man accused of permitting someone to drive his car without insurance.
The alleged offense occurred in August, 2015 and the defendant first appeared in court on May 30, 2016. On July 18, he pleaded not guilty and trial was set for Jan. 25.
The matter was called around noon, but the officer in the case was not present. Court records showed that he had been summoned on Oct. 26. Crown counsel Stacy-Ann Kelly said some time had lapsed since then, but this was only the first trial date, so she was asking for an adjournment.
Defense attorney Prathna Bodden asked the court to dismiss the case for want of prosecution.
Ms. Kelly said the Office of the Director of Prosecutions had done what it could; a reminder of the court date had been emailed to the officer.
“That supports my application even further,” Ms. Bodden replied. “A message needs to be sent to officers,” she urged. It could not be in the interest of justice to have relatively simple matters drag on, the attorney submitted.
Regarding the issue of officers not attending scheduled trials, the magistrate commented, “It’s been happening quite a bit.” The court had to “clear up” all these matters, she added, and dismissed the charge.
“You are free to go,” she told the accused.