The Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal has overturned a 2019 decision to suspend charges against two former employees of the Canadian Coast Guard.
Brian Stone and Kevin Barnes, both then senior executives of the Coast Guard, were accused of using more than $ 170,000 of the Canadian Coast Guard’s funds to purchase components used in a maritime tracking technology they developed together. The couple eventually sold the technology back to the Coast Guard with profits through a company they had incorporated.
Stone and Barnes were charged with fraud over $ 5,000 and breach of trust in May 2015.
When their trial date was moved to 2019, the defendants successfully challenged that the 53-month and 17-day delay violated their right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to have a trial within 30 months of being charged.
But a ruling filed Monday in the province’s appellate court said the judge at the time “erred in applying the legal principles relevant to initiating a adjournment of the case due to delay.”
According to the lawsuit, Stone and Barnes wanted information about the hard drives on their Coast Guard computers as part of their defense, but did not file a request for the information to be disclosed in a timely manner and delayed their trial unnecessarily.
“In short, there was ample opportunity, from the time the accusers were raised, for the defendants to obtain the additional information they sought, in time to be prepared for the trial on June 29, 2018,” the decision read.
“But they failed to act in a timely manner, and they actually showed marked indifference to the passage of time.”
The appellate judges argued that Stone and Barnes benefited from the delay in submitting the applications for publication and, as a result, reduced the time required for the 30-month time-limit under the Charter.
The decision also found that 11 months of the delay was a result of Stone changing lawyer and Barnes’ lawyer being unavailable.
In total, the appellate court found that the total delay of 53 months and 17 days could be reduced to just 27 months, “which is less than the presumed ceiling of 30 months delay.”
It is not yet clear whether Stone and Barnes will go to court on the charges after the appeal decision.
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