Five years later, ex-Lon­don jail staff face trial


Al­most five years af­ter they were charged, and sev­eral court de­ci­sions later, two former El­gin-Mid­dle­sex De­ten­tion Cen­tre (EMDC) em­ploy­ees fi­nally head to trial on Mon­day.

Jury se­lec­tion in the joint trial of former op­er­a­tional man­ager Stephen Jurkus and former cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer Les­lie Lons­bary is set to be­gin Jan. 14, the Su­pe­rior Court of­fice in Lon­don con­firmed on Wednes­day.

Given the round­about path of the case, though, noth­ing will be cer­tain un­til the pro­ceed­ings ac­tu­ally start.

“I’m re­lieved, but the long process has been hard on my fam­ily,” said Deb Abrams, mother of the man whose death prompted the charges. “We just want this to ac­tu­ally hap­pen, and make changes for oth­ers.”

Her son, Adam Kar­gus, 29, was mur­dered by cell­mate An­thony Ge­orge overnight on Oct. 31, 2013. Ge­orge pleaded guilty to sec­ond-de­gree mur­der four years later.

Jurkus and Lons­bary were charged in March 2014 with fail­ing to pro­vide the nec­es­saries of life to Kar­gus.

It was the first time that On­tario cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers had been charged with the crime and the news prompted protests from fel­low of­fi­cers and en­su­ing lock­downs at sev­eral On­tario jails.

A third now-former cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer, Gre­gory Lang­ford, also was charged. Charges against him were with­drawn at the start of the pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing in May 2015 and he is ex­pected to tes­tify at the trial of the other two men.

The case against Jurkus and Lons­bary was de­layed by that long pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing, a three-month wait af­ter for the judge’s de­ci­sion on com­mit­ting them to trial, sched­ul­ing mix­ups and reg­u­lar court ad­journ­ments.

The two men were set to go to trial in May 2017. But be­fore that could hap­pen, their lawyers went to court to ar­gue the men’s rights to trial within a rea­son­able time frame had been breached.

In Fe­bru­ary 2017, Lon­don Su­pe­rior Court Jus­tice Alissa Mitchell agreed, and the charges were stayed. The prov­ince ap­pealed that rul­ing and in May 2018, the On­tario Court of Ap­peal agreed with the prov­ince’s stand, or­der­ing the trial back on.

The lawyers for Jurkus and Lons­bary then sought leave to ap­peal that de­ci­sion to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Had the Supreme Court agreed to hear the ap­peal, the crim­i­nal trial would have been de­layed even fur­ther.

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