Labatt strikers no longer facing charges

Crown says it would not serve the public good to proceed

Rosie Mullaley
Published on June 9, 2014
Picketers at the Labatt brewery on Leslie Street.
— Telegram file photo

The criminal charges against 10 Labatt employees who were accused of defying court orders while they were involved in a wildcat strike in

St. John’s last year have been dropped.

In provincial court in St. John’s Monday, charges were withdrawn against  Andre Rene Adams, Daniel C. Follett, Danny Follett, Jeffrey Joseph Hanlon, Robert Joseph Hickey, Francis Joseph O’Neill, Leslie Errol Squires, Sterling Sutton, Edmund Tucker and Stephen Walsh.

The men had been accused of violating a court injunction while on the picket line by reportedly impeding vehicles en route to and from the brewery by walking in front of them.

“It’s not in the public interest to proceed with these matters,” Crown prosecutor Shawn Patten told Judge Pamela Goulding.

Defence lawyer Sheila Greene — who was in court representing the accused workers — told reporters outside court that it made sense to drop the charges, since the strike is long over and no one was hurt.

Patten told reporters it had more to do with the challenges in tracking down witnesses, the nature of the offence and the low sentence the workers likely would have received if convicted.

He said many of the witnesses — who were mainly replacement workers hired by Labatt for security positions — have since moved on to find jobs in other provinces. The cost of flying them in to testify was a factor to consider, he said.

“A lot of the key witnesses were displaced,” said Patten, who added there were about eight of them.

As for the nature of the offence, Patten said, “We deemed these to be more at the lower end of the spectrum because of the nature of what they were (said to have been) doing — impeding vehicles for a short period of time, in most cases just a few minutes.”

If the Crown had proceeded and was successful in getting convictions, Patten said the penalty would likely have only been probation and a fine.

One court matters remains. Daniel C. Follett is charged with one count of assault for allegedly spitting in a security guard’s face. His trial is set for July 17.

Twitter: @TelyCourt