Charges laid against four Outaouais teenagers in connection with bomb threats received in November by 71 Quebec schools have been stayed.
The Crown sought a stay of proceedings Friday due to insufficient evidence against the three boys and one girl, who were between the ages of 16 and 17 when they were arrested by police in November.
The teens had been charged with:
- Uttering threats to burn, destroy or damage Quebec schools.
- Uttering threats to cause death or harm to Quebec students or employees.
- Intent to injure or harm by means of telecommunications information known to be false.
- Conspiring to commit an indictable offence.
They were released from custody on strict conditions after the charges were laid.
The Crown has one year to bring forward any new evidence in the case. The charges will be dropped if no new evidence is brought forward.
Threatening email led to evacuations, closures
On Nov. 3, 71 schools across Quebec and in the Ottawa region received a threatening, anonymous email that led to evacuations, closures and searches.
The threatening message was signed by a party identifying itself as the "Red Sceptre." The note spoke out against the actions of unionized teachers in Quebec and Ontario, and threatened that bombs would be placed in schools, CEGEPs (community colleges) and buses.
At the time of the incidents, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he was keen to see the perpetrators prosecuted.
"Frankly, the people responsible for this tactic, whatever the nature of it is — and of course, we will allow the investigation to take its course — they have to know that they will be prosecuted, and that the investigation will be rigorous, if we are successful in identifying them," Couillard told reporters at the National Assembly.
"It's unacceptable. It's condemnable … Words escape me. It's criminal."