New Brunswick

Shale gas protesters sentenced to 15 months for violent clash with RCMP

Two anti-shale protesters who have already spent nine months in custody following a violent clash with RCMP near Rexton, N.B., face more time behind bars after they were sentenced on several charges today.

Germain Junior Breau and Aaron Francis convicted of several charges tied to protest near Rexton, N.B

Two anti-shale gas protesters have been sentenced to 15 months in jail in connection to a violent clash with police near Rexton, N.B., last fall.

Germain Junior Breau, 21, of Upper Rexton, N.B., and Aaron Francis, 20, of Eskasoni, N.S., were sentenced in Moncton provincial court on Tuesday on several charges.

An RCMP cruiser and another unmarked vehicle were among those destroyed during an anti-shale gas protest near Rexton, N.B., on Oct. 17. (Courtesy of Gilles Boudreau)
Judge R. Leslie Jackson gave Breau 423 days of credit for the 282 days he has already spent in custody. That means he has about a month left to serve in his sentence.

Francis was given 413 days of credit, leaving him with about six weeks behind bars.

Breau was convicted last month of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and five counts of pointing a firearm, but was found not guilty of five counts of assaulting police officers with a firearm.

He had previously pleaded guilty to uttering threats against a police officer, careless use of a firearm, and breach of probation.

Francis was also convicted of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, but was found not guilty of throwing Molotov cocktails, intent to do bodily harm by causing an explosive device to explode, possession of explosives while prohibited to do so, and committing an offence while having his face masked.

He previously pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer, two counts of obstructing a police officer, careless use of a firearm, possessing a firearm while prohibited to do so, and breaching a court order, as well as assault against a correctional officer while being held in custody, and breaching a court order.

After the judge left the courtroom, a crowd of supporters who attended the sentencing hearing applauded as the two defence lawyers, Alison Ménard and Gilles Lemieux, left the court, CBC's Jennifer Choi reported.

The protest on Route 134 near Rexton on Oct. 17, 2013, turned violent when police moved in to enforce a court injunction that prohibited protesters from interfering with the seismic exploration work of SWN Resources Canada.

About 40 people were arrested that day and six RCMP vehicles were destroyed by fire.