Stay of Proceedings
The Public Prosecution Service announced today the criminal prosecution against Gerald Phillips, Roger Parry and Curragh Inc. has ended. A Stay of Proceedings in this case has been entered with the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.
Earlier today the Westray prosecution team notified the defence for Mr. Parry and Mr. Phillips and members of the Westray families of the service's decision. Efforts have been made to contact all concerned parties to advise them of this decision.
"Based upon the evidence available to the Crown, the prosecution service concluded that there is no reasonable chance that a conviction would result on either charge if the matter proceeded to trial," said Marc Chisholm, Q.C., lead Crown attorney on the case.
After a lengthy period of re-examining thousands and thousands of documents and assessing the opinions of dozens of experts, the Crown determined there was insufficient evidence to reconstruct, in sufficient detail, the events surrounding the explosion of May 9, 1992. The expert's opinions differ on several key issues.
"The net effect of these differences, in our opinion, is that there is no reasonable chance that a conviction will result if the matter proceeded to trial," said Mr. Chisholm.
The directive of the Public Prosecution Service specifies that a prosecution should only go forward where there is evidence available on each essential element of the offence charged and the Crown attorney believes there is a reasonable chance that a conviction will result if the case proceeds to trial. If the available evidence does not meet this standard, the prosecution will be terminated.
Martin Herschorn, interim head of the Public Prosecution Service, thanked the members of the Westray prosecution team for their dedication and professionalism to this case.
"The Crown attorneys assigned to prosecute this case have done so with diligence and professionalism."
The current members of the Westray prosecution team have indicated they would like to submit to the deputy director a report on their handling of the prosecution since December 1995. This would include what was done, why it was done, the process the prosecution team followed and lessons learned.
Mr. Herschorn will also ask others involved in the initial phases of the prosecution for a similar report.
"While I am satisfied with the correctness of the decision, after a case of this magnitude it is important for the service to assess how the case was conducted and how that experience might be applied in other cases."
The deputy director's report once completed, will be made public.
NOTE: The following is intended for use by broadcast media.
The Public Prosecution Service has ended the criminal proceedings in the Westray case.
Charges against Gerald Phillips, Roger Parry and Curragh Inc. stemming from the May 9, 1992, Westray mine explosion have been stayed.
The Crown says that based upon the evidence available, there is no reasonable chance that a conviction would result if the matter proceeded to trial.
prosecution service's deputy director will be available tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Industry in the Feature Gallery, Stellarton. Copies of statements and a chronology of the Westray proceedings will be available between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Communications Nova Scotia, 1700 Granville St., Halifax.
ngr June 30, 1998 5:15 p.m.