By Garett Williams
Thursday December 06, 2007
The nine men and two women charged with determining the outcome of Bruce and Donna Montague’s criminal trial on firearms-related offences have been sequestered to decide their verdict.
Justice John Wright wrapped up his charge to the jury Wednesday afternoon and released them to make their decision on Bruce Montague’s nearly 50 firearms-related charges and Donna’s additional three.
Wright instructed the jury to exercise good common sense when considering the charges and reminded them the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof lies on the Crown.
He told them if the Crown satisfied the burden of proof, then they must return a guilty verdict. However, if they have any reasonable doubt at all, they must acquit.
He addressed each charge individually, recapping the defence’s and the Crown’s case regarding the charge and read the jury the law and how it applies.
In many cases, Wright said the jury’s assessment of the credibility of Bruce Montague’s testimony will be necessary.
He explained that ignorance of the law is not a lawful excuse, which applies to the serial numbers Bruce Montague removed from several firearms. Montague testified in court he didn’t know it was against the law.
Wright also explained the definition of unloaded, as the law applies it, as a firearm with no cartridges in the chamber and no shells in the magazine, unless the magazine is not inserted in the firearm. He added that any insertion at all renders the firearm loaded.
For many of the charges, Wright offered his own opinion whether the Crown or defence presented a solid case. He gave a directed verdict of not guilty on at least six of the charges, saying the Crown didn’t present any evidence related to the charges.
The charges stem back to 2004, when Bruce Montague was arrested at a Dryden gun show. In October of this year, his constitutional challenge of the federal Firearms Act, which aimed to strike out sections of the Criminal Code of Canada related to the act, to have their criminal charges dismissed and to have the Firearms Act declared unconstitutional -- was dismissed by Wright.
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