'I don't have a lot of sympathy,' judge says as he books trial for murder suspect who fled Canada

Before he set a second trial date, a Calgary judge expressed disdain toward a man who fled the country days before being tried in the death of a teen who was swarmed and stabbed in a downtown alley.

Nathan Paul Gervais fled Calgary in 2016 just before his trial in stabbing death of Lukas Strasser-Hird

Nathan Paul Gervais, who was charged with murder in a 2013 stabbing death behind a Calgary nightclub, will likely go on trial in 2019. (Calgary Police Service)

Editor's note: The trial date mentioned in the story below has been delayed. A two-week judge-alone trial is now set for Jan. 14, 2019.

Before he set a second trial date, a Calgary judge expressed disdain toward an accused killer who was arrested in Vietnam after fleeing the country just days before he was set to be tried for murder.

Justice Earl Wilson, in the Court of Queen's Bench in Calgary Friday, refused to fast-track Nathan Gervais' trial in the death of an 18-year-old who was swarmed and stabbed in a downtown alley in 2013.

"I don't have a lot of sympathy since he didn't show up" for his original trial date, Wilson told court.

"He disappears and then he wants to come here clamouring for an early date." 

A three-week trial has been booked for May 6, 2019. 

Gervais is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Lukas Strasser-Hird, who died in hospital at the age of 18 after being attacked in an alley at Second Street and 10th Avenue S.W.

Lukas Strasser-Hird was murdered on Nov. 23, 2013, during an assault outside a downtown bar. (Facebook)

Gervais fled the country in April 2016, less than two weeks before he was to go on trial for murder. He was on the lam for more than a year before being arrested in Vietnam and flown back to Canada in February.

The original trial went ahead for four others accused in the killing. Frans Cabrera and Assmar Shlah were found guilty of second-degree murder, while Joch Pouk was found guilty of manslaughter.

A fourth man, Jordan Liao, was acquitted.

On Friday, defence lawyer Alain Hepner said he was not seeking an expedited date, normally reserved for cases which are dangerously close to violating an accused's right to a timely trial. 

Gervais has lost his right to a jury trial but prosecutor Ken McCaffrey is still considering whether he wants the case heard by judge alone or judge and jury.

Police have confirmed they are investigating whether anyone helped Gervais flee the country.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.