Look­ing for an­swers

Jus­tice sys­tem fail­ing sub­ject of com­plaints by North Sydney cou­ple

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page -

A core be­lief that truth and jus­tice will pre­vail is now shat­tered for a North Sydney cou­ple who must now ac­cept no one will be held re­spon­si­ble for a vi­cious and un­pro­voked at­tack that re­sulted in a per­ma­nent and painful fa­cial in­jury.

But as Joe Yorke and Diane Koisel try and move on from their abysmal ex­pe­ri­ence with the jus­tice sys­tem, they have turned their at­ten­tion to en­sur­ing no other vic­tim is re­vic­tim­ized.

“We were re-vic­tim­ized by a sys­tem that was sup­pose to pro­tect us. What kind of mes­sage does that send to the pub­lic?” said Koisel, adding the cou­ple is now de­mand­ing an­swers to fully ex­plain what hap­pened.

“This should never have hap­pened to us and should never hap­pen again to any­one else,” she said.

It all be­gan at about 9 p.m. on May 16, 2016, when some­one knocked the front door of Yorke and Loisel’s home on Cale­do­nia Street. North Sydney res­i­dents Joe Yorke and Diane Loisel re­view a re­cent court de­ci­sion that re­jected a Crown bid to have a charge re-filed against a man charged with as­sault­ing Yorke. The charge was dis­missed at the out­set of a sched­uled trial and two at­tempts to have it re­in­stated were de­nied. The cou­ple now say the jus­tice sys­tem failed them and they want an­swers why.

Yorke an­swered the door and was sud­denly knocked back­ward by a sin­gle punch to the face. Loisel grabbed the phone and called 911.

Yorke suf­fered ex­ten­sive fa­cial in­juries in the at­tack in­clud­ing a bro­ken jaw and cheek­bone. He no longer has any feel­ing in the right side of his face that is now sup­ported by metal pins and bits of skin. The in­juries have cost the cou­ple some $12,000 in out of pocket ex­penses.

Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Po­lice nabbed a sus­pect, Jonas Lee MacDon­ald, 29, of North Sydney, and charged him with as­sault caus­ing bod­ily harm. Nei­ther Yorke or Loisel had any prior deal­ings with MacDon­ald and he was an un­known to them.

MacDon­ald was re­leased on con­di­tions and af­ter en­ter­ing a not guilty plea, was as­signed a trial date of Feb. 22, 2017.

On the day of the trial, provin­cial court Judge Peter Ross asked Crown At­tor­ney Mark Gouthro if he was ready to pro­ceed to which he re­sponded he wasn’t be­cause two of his wit­nesses (Yorke and Loisel) were miss­ing.

A sher­iff deputy did call out their names in the hall­way out­side the first floor court­room and in re­ceiv­ing no re­sponse, the Crown said it was of­fer­ing no ev­i­dence and the case was dis­missed. The ac­cused was also not present in the court­room at the time.

But Yorke, Loisel and the ac­cused were in­deed present at the Sydney Jus­tice Cen­tre but were await­ing the trial out­side a court­room on the sec­ond floor.

“On the Fri­day be­fore the trial, we did a tour of the court­room with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Vic­tim Ser­vices and were told to be sure to wait out­side the sec­ond floor court­room for our names to be called,” said Koisel, adding the in­ci­dent was their first brush with the jus­tice sys­tem.

As noted in a court de­ci­sion re­leased this week con­nected to the case, the Crown’s wit­nesses were truly not miss­ing but sim­ply mis­placed.

Re­ceiv­ing the wrong in­for­ma­tion about where the trial would be held and the sub­se­quent dis­missal of the charge and a con­tin­ued se­ries of er­rors have only served to fur­ther erode the cou­ple’s con­fi­dence in the jus­tice sys­tem.

Yorke and Loisel ap­pear to have done every­thing right. They were fully co­op­er­a­tive with po­lice, they con­tacted Vic­tim Ser­vices for in­for­ma­tion on the court process, they shared their con­tact in­for­ma­tion with ev­ery­one work­ing on their case, they re­peat­edly told po­lice and oth­ers they were ready and will­ing to tes­tify and were anx­iously look­ing for­ward to their day in court.

“Now all we get is “I’m sorry.”’ I’m tried of hear­ing that,” said Koisel, adding she wants an­swers, not apol­o­gizes.

In at­tempt­ing to cor­rect its mis­take, the Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice filed two ap­peal ap­pli­ca­tions – one in Supreme Court and the other in provin­cial court – in a bid to have the dis­missal re­versed.

Both ap­pli­ca­tions were dis­missed.

Supreme Court Jus­tice Robin Go­gan ruled she found no er­ror by the trial judge is dis­miss­ing the charge af­ter the Crown of­fered no ev­i­dence.

Judge Ross also dis­missed the Crown bid.

“What is clear is that the Crown made no in­quiry on the record as to the pres­ence of the ac­cused nor did it seek an ad­journ­ment to in­ves­ti­gate the ab­sence of wit­nesses it had com­pelled to tes­tify,” said Ross.

Ross said even on eq­ui­table prin­ci­pals, it was not ob­vi­ous the ap­pli­ca­tion should be granted adding the charge hung over the head of the ac­cused for nine months dur­ing which he was sub­ject to re­stric­tions.

“There is an un­fair­ness to the ac­cused in res­ur­rect­ing this pro­ceed­ing,” he said.

“Mis­takes and omis­sions can oc­cur. Not all can be cor­rected. The sys­tem is not per­fect and never will be. That said, while crim­i­nal jus­tice should not seek an out­come at all costs it is im­por­tant that mat­ters be re­solved with fi­nal­ity and with cer­tainty,” said Ross.

Loisel said the cou­ple wanted to at­tend the Supreme Court hear­ing on the Crown ap­pli­ca­tion but the case was moved to an ear­lier time and no one con­tacted them to in­form them of the change. When they ar­rived at the court­house, the case was over.

Loisel said they learned of the de­ci­sion in the Cape Bre­ton Post.

As for the Ross de­ci­sion, the cou­ple again learned of the de­ci­sion from the Post and are still await­ing a promised call from the Crown.

“Our ex­pe­ri­ence with the jus­tice sys­tem has been noth­ing but mis­takes,” said Loisel.

Yorke said he sim­ply doesn’t un­der­stand how some­thing like this can hap­pen.

“There is noth­ing I can say that will change any­thing. It will never be over,” he said.

The cou­ple is fil­ing com­plaints with the pros­e­cu­tion ser­vice, Depart­ment of Jus­tice, Vic­tim Ser­vices and oth­ers in a bid to get some an­swers why their case went so hor­ri­bly wrong.


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