Bail denied for Montreal man accused of mugging Pettigrew

Judge denies bail for Frederick Estelle, who is charged with aggravated theft. Estelle allegedly stole a cell phone from Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew at a Montreal subway station.

The man accused of assaulting Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew at a Montreal subway station was denied bail on Friday.

Frederick Estelle, 24, is charged with mugging Pettigrew and trying to steal his cell phone.

Estelle was inside the station when the minister walked in on Wednesday night, Pettigrew said in a statement read by the Crown.

Estelle yelled to the minister to get out of his "territory", pushed and shoved him and eventually stole his cell phone, the statement said.

The accused's uncle and employer, Richard Estelle, said his nephew is not dangerous and has a psychiatric disorder.

After hearing Estelle was treated for depression several years ago and has recently had suicidal thoughts, the judge said he can't be sure Estelle doesn't pose a threat to public safety.

The judge ruled it was best for Estelle to spend two weeks in hospital before the case proceeds.

"He's fine with it," said Estelle's defence lawyer, Kathia Zarrar of the bail decision. "He's very calm and he's going to go through with all this."

Estelle was well dressed and well spoken at the bail hearing, where he sat expressionless with his family.

Pettigrew did not have a bodyguard during the incident. The minister's office told French-language media that it wasn't rare for the him to take public transportation by himself.

Pettigrew maintains he was not a target but was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A 19-year-old bystander helped Pettigrew to fend off the attacker. Both Pettigrew and his Good Samaritan suffered minor injuries. The cellphone was returned to Pettigrew after the incident.