New Brunswick

Preliminary inquiry begins for Dorchester guards accused in inmate's death

A preliminary inquiry has begun for two correctional officers, Alvida Ross, 49, and Mathieu Bourgoin, 32, who are charged in connection with the death of inmate Matthew Hines.

2 correctional officers have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death

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

A preliminary inquiry has begun for two correctional officers charged in the death of inmate Matthew Hines.

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

The preliminary inquiry will determine whether there is enough evidence to send the matter to trial.

Hines, who was from Cape Breton, was serving a sentence for robbery at Dorchester Penitentiary in southeastern New Brunswick when he died on May 27, 2015. He was 33.

Both Ross and Bourgoin were in Moncton court on Monday, flanked by more than a dozen supporters. 

Crown prosecutor Claude Haché wheeled in more than three Bankers Boxes of evidence before the hearing began, along with a TV to show video. The evidence is protected by a publication ban. 

The ban lasts until the trial ends, if the matter goes to trial, or until Ross and Bourgoin are discharged, if the matter doesn't go to trial.

Hines family travelled from Nova Scotia

The family of Matthew Hines and their lawyer, Julie Kirkpatrick, leave Moncton court on Monday. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

Several of Hines's family members travelled from Sydney, N.S., to listen to the evidence, filling an opposite front bench.

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers issued a statement offering condolences to the Hines family on Monday.

"The union also wants to reiterate its support to its two members who have been centered out and face criminal charges following two investigations by the RCMP," the statement says. 

The union said it won't offer any other comment while the case is before the courts.

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

An internal Correctional Service Canada 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.

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. 

Ross and Bourgoin were both charged in January.

Michel DesNeiges is representing Ross, and Bourgoin is represented by Alison Mé​nard.

The preliminary inquiry is scheduled to last five days.

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