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Majority of Justin Jennings' charges withdrawn in St. John's court

Justin Jennings smiles as he is escorted from a St. John’s courtroom to the holding cells for a final time, to await the paperwork releasing him from custody.
Justin Jennings. - SaltWire File Photo

Judge deciding how to proceed with witness testimony

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

While the majority of his 25 charges have been withdrawn, Justin Jennings' trial will continue in St. John's Thursday morning with lawyers making more submissions to the judge on what to do with the complainant's testimony.

Jennings, 34, was charged last fall with a number of serious offences, most of them related to an alleged home invasion and an alleged kidnapping, robbery and extortion. However, when his matter was called in court in January, prosecutor Jude Hall withdrew the charges related to the home invasion, saying a review of the details indicated there wasn't a likely prospect of conviction.

As Jennings' trial began earlier this month on the offences connected with the reported kidnapping, robbery and extortion, Hall withdrew a handful of weapons-related charges for the same reason.

That leaves Jennings with seven charges, and he has pleaded not guilty to all of them: robbery, forcible confinement, extortion, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, driving while disqualified and two court order breaches.

The full details of the allegations have not yet been presented to the court outside a publication ban, since the complainant, Joshua Weir, testified he couldn't remember anything that had happened the night in question.

Hall indicated he would seek to use Weir's 52-page statement to police instead, given that Weir had agreed to speak to investigators under caution that his statement could later be used as evidence in court.

Weir had failed to show up on time when he was scheduled to testify, resulting in his arrest under a witness warrant. He was asked to come back to court the next day to answer further questions, but he didn't show up, resulting in a second warrant for his arrest.

Police officers were unable to locate Weir, and three of them took the stand last week to explain to the court the efforts they had taken to try to find him, including visiting his last known address and the homes of his close family members and an ex-girlfriend, calling his cellphone, and checking hospital registration information.

Hall will continue with his application to use evidence from Weir's police statement when the trial resumes Thursday morning.

Jennings' lawyer, Averill Baker, has repeatedly asked the judge to dismiss all charges against Jennings related to Weir.

Judge Mike Madden has so far denied that request.

Jennings made headlines last May when Judge James Walsh released him from custody with a sentence of time served on three assault charges, a dangerous driving charge and court-ordered breaches, saying Jennings had suffered undue hardship as an inmate at Her Majesty's Penitentiary.


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