Gammie acquitted of assault charge
Former South Bruce Peninsula Coun. Craig Gammie has been acquitted of a charge that he assaulted South Bruce Peninsula Deputy-mayor Jay Kirkland last year.
Ontario Court Justice Julia Morneau delivered her written judgment in Owen Sound on Thursday afternoon. In the judgment Morneau states that Gammie “most likely” pushed Kirkland, however that “does not meet the requisite standard of proof in a criminal prosecution.”
“Of course I am very pleased with it,” said Gammie after the decision. “I expected an acquittal.”
It took Morneau just seconds to announce Gammie’s acquittal and present her written judgment to the Crown and defence lawyers.
In her eight-page judgment, Morneau states that she cannot say that any witnesses were untruthful.
“They were asked to dissect an encounter within the recessed area that lasted only seconds,” she wrote in the judgment. “However given the conflicts in the evidence I cannot safely conclude the extent of Mr. Gammie’s use of force.”
The judgment goes on to state that “Mr. Gammie most likely did push Mr. Kirkland from behind. Mr. Gammie clearly did not disagree at the time with Mr. Kirkland’s remarks about being pushed.”
“Saying Mr. Gammie most likely pushed Mr. Kirkland however does not meet the requisite standard of proof in a criminal prosecution,” the judgment reads.
Kirkland, who was not in court on Thursday, said he was shocked by the acquittal.
“I haven’t really had time to think about it too much, but I can’t believe it,” said Kirkland. “Why would I put myself through that if he didn’t do it?”
South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Janice Jackson, who witnessed the incident, also said she was extremely disappointed with the decision.
“The thing that saddens me is the judge seems to be sending a message that this kind of behaviour in a municipal office is OK,” said Jackson, who had not yet read the judgment. “You can just slam somebody into a steel door and that is OK.”
Morneau’s judgment on Thursday laid out the evidence presented during the trial that was heard in court over two days in August and another in mid-September.
Jackson and Kirkland were the only two witnesses to give testimony for the Crown, while Gammie testified in his defence.
The alleged incident occurred outside the clerk’s office in Wiarton on Sept. 5, 2017.
During the trial, Kirkland testified that Gammie pushed him twice from behind quite heavily, slamming his face into the door or door frame. He suffered no injuries.
Evidence presented in court included video from a surveillance camera. While it wasn’t in position to show what happened, it does show Jackson stepping back as if she had just seen something startling. Gammie also presented an audio recording of the incident, which Morneau wrote “provides the most accurate account of what was said in the recessed area outside the clerk’s office.”
A summary of the recording in the judgment states that Kirkland can be heard saying “Don’t push me,” while Jackson can be heard saying “That’s assault. I love it.”
Kirkland can then be heard saying, “Don’t push me around,” to which Gammie replies, “Get out of my road then. You’re obstructing my ”
Jackson said the recording was edited, which Gammie admitted to.
“A lot of the very damning statements that Mr. Gammie made were interestingly removed,” said Jackson. “That was unfortunate.”
Kirkland said Gammie can say whatever he wants in the wake of the decision.
“Why would I put myself through that rigmarole if it didn’t happen,” said Kirkland. “He even had me on his own tape that he recorded telling him not to do that to my back from behind again.
“Why would I turn around if somebody didn’t slam me from behind, and tell them that?”
Kirkland said he plans to move on from the trial.
“It was the Crown that charged him, not me,” said Kirkland, who said he went to police, asked if they thought it was a case, and they told him that Gammie couldn’t do to him what he was alleged to have done.
Jackson said the evidence speaks for itself, including the video, audio and her and Kirkland’s testimony.
Both Jackson and Kirkland expressed surprise that a town employee who witnessed the events wasn’t called to testify.
“There was a third eyewitness and the Crown chose not to call that witness,” said Jackson. “When I asked why he didn’t call the witness he said the case was as good as it could get.”
Gammie said he has lost his council seat, has been humiliated, “incurred all kinds of court costs and the stress on me and my family has been incredible.”
“I hope I can find a way to make Janice and Jay Kirkland pay the consequences of their improper actions,” said Gammie.
As a consequence of the charge, bail terms kept Gammie from attending council and he was removed under a Municipal Act provision after missing three months of meetings.
Gammie said he is not yet sure what he will do now that there has been an acquittal in the case. He said he plans to talk to his legal team.
As for public office, he said it could again be in his future, but probably not at the municipal level.
“I will never, ever, ever put myself in a position where I might be on a council with Janice Jackson,” said Gammie. “That is why I am not running as a council member.”