Two men suspected of being involved in a riot and hostage-taking at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) last summer have had a change of plans in their court case.
Justin Wiseman, 22, and Adam Hayden, 26, were back in provincial court in St. John’s Friday for the start of a preliminary inquiry.
The two were supposed to have started their trial just a day before.
However, on Thursday, their lawyers Jonathan Noonan (for Wiseman) and Mark Gruchy (for Hayden) told the judge they would be seeking to have their clients’ trials heard by a Newfoundland Supreme Court judge, instead of a provincial court judge.
By law, the notice to do so must be made 14 days before proceedings. However, Noonan and Gruchy claim they may qualify since new and relevant information in the case had been disclosed to them only in the last few weeks.
However, following discussions with Crown prosecutor Shawn Patten, the lawyers were given consent to make the re-election and have the inquiry. It’s expected to last about a week.
An inquiry is held to determine whether there’s enough evidence to bring the case to trial. It’s also an opportunity for lawyers to gauge the strength of the evidence against their clients.
Hayden and Wiseman face charges of hostage-taking, having their faces masked and mischief by damaging HMP property exceeding $5,000 during an incident that happened Aug. 5, 2013.
Four others were charged in connection with the incident, but have entered guilty pleas.
Julian Matthew Squires, 26, pleaded guilty to hostage-taking, as well as mischief by causing property damage exceeding $5,000.
He’s scheduled to be sentenced Monday.
Justin Owens, 24, and Philip James Hollihan, 28, pleaded guilty to obstructing, interrupting or interfering with the lawful use or operation of property. Owens was sentenced to six months in jail. Hollihan will be sentenced April 15.
Justin Hopkins, 30, pleaded guilty to mischief by causing property damage exceeding $5,000. He’s due to be sentenced April 4.
According to the facts presented in Hopkins’ case, the prisoners involved in the riot threatened to kill the hostages and corrections officers.
Hopkins took part in the group’s rampage, which caused close to $100,000 in damage to the 3B unit.
When police arrived, inmates were yelling through the window that they had hostages.
One of the inmates involved in the riot told a negotiator that if they didn’t get cigarettes, they were going to cut the hostages’ throats.
When officers delivered the cigarettes, hostages were released. The inmates surrendered shortly afterwards.