Sunday, July 21, 2024

Five accused in Quinte West boy’s murder make brief court appearances

The Quinte Consolidated Courthouse, which houses the Ontario Court of Justice, in Belleville. Photo via the Ministry of the Attorney General on Flickr.

All five people accused in the murder of 17-year-old Kiean Stoddard last month appeared before Justice of the Peace Leona Dombrowskie in Belleville’s Ontario Court of Justice Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. It was a packed docket and Dombrowsky warned there would be little to no time for break-out rooms or phone calls between the legal counsel and clients in court today.

Harold Russel, age 44, appeared first. He looked much older than his years and was wearing orange coveralls when he began his video appearance from Central East Detention Centre (CEDC) where he is being held.  His manner was chaotic as he loudly explained his attempts to secure counsel to Dombrowsky, interrupting the agents of the court a number of times.  His matter was adjourned until later this month.

Next came Kadijah Courneyea and Courtney Morgan.  Both women appeared separately from Quinte Detention Centre’s video booth. Neither has yet settled on a representative defence lawyer and they too were adjourned until late February.

Aaron Ryan appeared in the afternoon from CEDC. He has a brown brush cut. His speech was slow and depressed.  He too is still working on obtaining a specific lawyer. He asked Dombrowsky for advice on how to proceed.  This frustrated the Justice of the Peace, who tersly explained “I’m not a lawyer, its not for me to give legal advice.” She asked for Duty Council to meet with Ryan in a Zoom breakout room despite her earlier warming.

Last of all came the matter of Steven Courneyea. The 26-year-old’s appearance was uneventful and he too was ordered to return late in February.

All five matters are subject to a publication ban under 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 a bail application 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.”

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

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