By Warner Bloomfield, Dryden Observer Wed., June 22, 2005.
Bruce Montague will go before a judge and jury on more than 50 weapons charges. His wife will stand trial on three charges.
In Dryden provincial court on June 20, the Montagues waved their rights to a preliminary hearing and elected to be tried before a judge and jury.
A date for that trial has yet to be set. The couples' next court appearance is likely to be held in July to set a date for further motions.
There was one curious development in the case as the Crown withdrew many of the original charges and replaced them with others based on the same information.
Last fall police laid a number of charges against the Montagues related to the possession of unregistered firearms, prohibited firearms and unsafe storage. The gunsmith had publicly stated his wish to be arrested as a way of protesting the federal government's gun registration act.
Assistant Crown Attorney Peter Keene told Judge Peter Bishop that the OPP's investigation of Montague had concluded only in the last month. Information gathered led the crown to drop a number of charges and bring new ones forward. He added the Crown had made full disclosure of the evidence to defence council the week before.
As a result, Montague no longer faces charges of careless storage of a firearm. Those charges are replaced with storage of a firearm contrary to regulations.
Many of the 53 charges Bruce Montague faces relate to owning a firearm without a licence or registration. There are also a number of charges concerning possession of a firearm for a purpose dangerous to the public peace. Donna Montague, meanwhile, still faces two charges of careless storage of a firearm and one of owning a firearm without licence or registration.
Bruce adds he is pleased to see the careless storage charges removed, and points out the original charges harmed his reputation.
"They smear my name, then withdraw the charges, but no apologies. It steams me up," he says.
He adds he is not troubled by the change in charges, explaining they still leave the door open for a Charter challenge, which he has pursued now for several years.
“The meat of the charges is still there. The changes make it more of a technical issue, instead of a public safety issue,” he says of the new set of charges.
One other issue the Montagues still want to resolve is the disposition of property seized during the police search of their home and business.
“There’s basically a lot of money being held and much of it has nothing to do with the case,” he says, adding it has been in the authorities’ hands for nine months.
Among those items being held are computer records needed to file a tax return, as well as inventory from his gunsmith business.
"We want to file our taxes, but can't without that information. There is also some inventory we could sell to earn some money," he explains.
While they hope to have this matter cleared up before their next court date, the Montagues are not optimistic.
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