Saturday, July 20, 2024

Accused arsonist, roller rink operator Jay Bradley, makes first court appearance

What remained of the Lennox Agricultural Memorial Community Centre in Napanee after the fire was mostly extinguished on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

Former Disco Ball Events owner-operator Jay Bradley made his first court appearance in a case where he stands accused of arson in relation to a fire that devastated a much-loved Napanee community centre.

Early on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, Bradley appeared via teleconference from the Lennox and Addington (L&A) County Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Napanee for the weekend bail court overseen by Justice of the Peace Sylvie-Émanuelle Bourbonnais.

Bradley stands accused of two counts of arson (with a disregard for human life); criminal harassment (with threatening conduct); and possession of incendiary material (materials which are designed to cause or exacerbate fire) for allegedly setting fire to the old York Street arena in Napanee, which was owned by the Lennox Agricultural Society (LAS).

Bradley ran his roller skating business, Disco Ball Events, at the building until the late summer of 2023. At that time, he released a public statement on Facebook, dated September 14, 2023, which he claimed was a speech he had made to the LAS upon their decision not to renew his rental agreement. That speech alludes to “tensions” between him and the “new Fair Board President,” who was Carol McKinley at that time. Bradley now stands charged with criminal harassment/threatening conduct against McKinley.

Bradley also stands accused of arson in relation to the fire set at McKinley’s home, which occurred just after the Napanee Arena fire in the early morning hours of Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. The Stone Mills Fire Department got McKinley’s call about her fully involved garage fire at 2:44 a.m., while witnesses at the arena fire called Greater Napanee emergency services around 2:30 a.m..

Bradly appeared dishevelled and jittery at the arraignment, even interrupting the proceeding to instruct the court officers on how to adjust their microphones for less feedback.

After hearing the evidence and listing several witnesses Bradley is not allowed to contact during his time in custody, Bourbonnais ordered Bradley remanded into custody to allow him to organize his case and prepare a bail plan. A new bail plan appointment was set with the Napanee Superior Court of Justice for Monday, Nov. 6, 2023.

During the hearing, Bradley, as was his right, asked the judge to impose a publication ban on his case for specified reasons. Complying with Bradley’s request was mandatory, and Bourbonnais ordered a ban based on Section 517 of the Criminal Code of Canada. An order under this section bans the publication of information arising during a bail hearing, as well as the reasons given by the judge, until the accused is discharged or, if they are ordered to stand trial, the trial has ended. 

However, there are things the media can make public. In a 2010 case involving the Toronto Star, the Supreme Court’s decision pointed out, “It is worth noting that the mandatory publication ban provided for in s. 517 is not an absolute ban either on access to the courts or on publication. The provision only prohibits the publication of evidence adduced, information given, representations made, and reasons given by the justice at a bail hearing. But the media can publish the identity of the accused, comment on the facts and the offence that the accused has been charged with, and that an application for bail has been made, as well as report on the outcome of the application. Journalists are also not prevented from informing the public of the legal conditions attached to the release of the accused.”

Kingstonist will continue to provide updated coverage of this matter as more information becomes available.

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