New Brunswick

Delay adjourns preliminary inquiry for 2 guards accused in Matthew Hines's death

An unexpected delay has pushed back closing arguments in a preliminary inquiry for two Dorchester Penitentiary guards charged in the death of 33-year-old Matthew Hines.

Mathieu Bourgoin and Alvida Ross have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death

Alvida Ross, left and Mathieu Bourgoin, right, have pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

An unexpected delay has pushed back closing arguments in a preliminary inquiry for two Dorchester Penitentiary guards charged in the death of Matthew Hines.

Mathieu Bourgoin, 32, and Alvida Ross, 49, have pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death.

After closing arguments, Judge Ronald LeBlanc must decide whether the case will proceed to trial or Bourgoin and Ross will be discharged.

Hines, a 33-year-old man from Cape Breton, died on May 27, 2015.

He was serving a prison sentence for robbery at Dorchester Penitentiary at the time of his death.

The case will return to court on Dec. 14.

All of the evidence presented at the preliminary inquiry is under a publication ban until the end of the trial, if the case goes to trial, or until Bourgoin and Ross are discharged.

Family concerned about delays

Hines's brother, Albert Hines, and the family's lawyer, Julie Kirkpatrick, both travelled to Moncton from Cape Breton to hear the closing arguments that were expected to be delivered on Tuesday.

They were already in Moncton on Monday when they found out about the delay, which Kirkpatrick said was "unfortunate."

Albert Hines, Matthew Hines's brother, and the family's lawyer, Julie Kirkpatrick, travelled to Moncton for the preliminary inquiry. Kirkpatrick worked with the Crown Prosecutor to find a way to offer 'whisper translation' to the family. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

"One of the things that Matthew's family has been concerned about from the start is the Supreme Court of Canada decision and the presumptive ceiling that's been set for criminal cases to proceed through the system," Kirkpatrick said.

"In a case like this, it's 30 months so we're mindful of that."

She said the family has been concerned about delays from the beginning. Ross and Bourgoin were both charged in January.

"We continue to trust that all of those who are involved in the process are ensuring that this case moves through in compliance with those guidelines," Kirkpatrick added.

The family has vowed to attend every court proceeding related to the case.

Albert Hines said they've been splitting up the travel to make sure everyone can make it.

"It's tiring but it's doable," he said.

"We're going to be here as long as we have to be so we'll keep coming."

Guards charged in January

An internal Correctional Service Canada (CSC) investigation has previously found that correctional officers used "inappropriate" force on Hines by beating and repeatedly pepper spraying him after he refused to return to his cell at Dorchester Penitentiary.

Matthew Hines died while in custody of the Dorchester Penitentiary on May 27, 2015. (CBC)

Less than two hours after the encounter with guards began, Hines was pronounced dead at the Moncton Hospital, the CSC investigation found.

Police initially ruled out foul play in Hines's death, but later reopened the investigation and transferred it out of province to Nova Scotia RCMP.

Two Crown prosecutors — Claude Haché and Pierre Gionet — are handling the case.

Ross is represented by defence lawyer Michel DesNeiges, and Bourgoin's lawyer is Alison Mé​nard.

Both guards have been assigned to "non-custodial duties," which means they're not involved in the "care and/or custody of offenders," according to CSC.

About the Author

Karissa Donkin is a journalist in CBC's Atlantic investigative unit. Do you have a story you want us to investigate? Send your tips to NBInvestigates@CBC.ca.