Judge rules high profile kidnapping trial will stay in Penticton | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Judge rules high profile kidnapping trial will stay in Penticton

The trial of four men accused in a kidnapping and assault incident west of Penticton in May, 2015, will take place in Penticton, following a judge's ruling in Penticton court today, Aug. 5, 2016.
August 05, 2016 - 4:30 PM

PENTICTON - A change of venue application to have the trial of four accused in a kidnapping and beating moved from Penticton to Kelowna has been denied.

The application related to the upcoming trial of four men accused of kidnapping and beating a man on Shingle Creek Road west of Penticton on May 21, 2015.

Carey Anderson, Kerry James Ellis, Albert Edgar Fontaine and John Marshall Szanto are facing a preliminary hearing later in August on charges of kidnapping, unlawful confinement and aggravated assault.

Crown Prosecutor Kurt Froehlich requested a change in venue from Penticton to Kelowna, citing security and security staffing issues in Penticton.

B.C. Sheriff Services Sgt. Scot Adams was also present in court, advising Judge Gregory Koturbash of the potential security and staffing issues surrounding the in-court custody of the four men accused.

Adams said Sheriff Services could handle the case, but would need extra staff to handle the number of accused while on trial in addition to providing security for the usual daily needs of the courthouse.

He suggested a better plan lay in moving the proceedings to Kelowna.

Judge Koturbash said it was in the best interest of the public to have the proceedings take place in Penticton, adding he had been advocating for better security in Penticton for some time.

James Pennington, defence lawyer for co-accused Kerry James Ellis, called the application “a deliberate act” by the authorities to make the application at such a late stage “in order to stampede everyone into moving it to Kelowna.”

He said the business of moving trials from Penticton to Kelowna had been going on for 30 years with Penticton receiving the short end of the stick.

Pennington also noted “the public’s absolute right” to be able to view the proceedings in the jurisdiction where the crime took place.

Three of the four accused are presently in custody in varying institutions and would have to appear in three segments on a video screen.

Some technical discussion to discover Penticton courthouse’s ability to connect the multiple accused by video was undertaken before it was determined Penticton courthouse had the required technical capability.

Three of the four accused are expected to appear via video link with Carey Anderson being the single accused expected to be present physically.

"I have a great deal of confidence in the Sheriff’s unit in Penticton,” Judge Koturbash said in making his decision.

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