Nfld. & Labrador

Darin King called HMP riot a 'learning experience,' defence alleges

Defence lawyers in the case involving a February riot at Her Majesty's Penitentiary say Darin King, the justice minister at the time, failed to act after the riot, instead referring to the incident as a learning experience for government.
Defence lawyer Nick Avis says management at Her Majesty's Penitentiary knew there was a real threat the day of the February riot, but failed to act on it. (CBC)

Defence lawyers in the case involving a February riot at Her Majesty's Penitentiary say Darin King, the justice minister at the time, failed to act after the riot, instead referring to the incident as a learning experience for government.

Nick Avis, who represents Justin Harvey, and Nick Westera, who represents inmate Calvin Kenny, say there was a meeting after the Feb. 9 riot with King, senior staff at HMP, and others.

The two lawyers had filed an application on Friday alleging criminal negligence against senior staff at the penitentiary, stating they knew something wasn't right on the day several inmates jumped convicted killer Kenny Green in the chapel.
Nick Avis says managers at Her Majesty's Penitentiary knew something would happen if Philip Pynn and Kenny Green were brought to the chapel at the same time. (CBC)

In an amended application with the courts, Avis and Westera said King and those present at the meeting were advised of the circumstances leading up to the chapel riot.

"Then minister King stated that there would be no disciplinary action taken against management, and that government considered this a learning experience or learning curve or words to that effect," the application stated.

This means they felt King didn't go far enough, and he should have ordered an investigation into who knew what — and when — before the riot. By not doing so, the defence says King contributed to the "selective prosecution."

In Friday's application, the two lawyers identified HMP staff who they felt were negligent, and failed to act on intelligence indicating there could be an attack.

In the amended application, the lawyers also allege Assistant Supt. Owen Brophy "took responsibility" for the decision to allow inmates from units three and four to attend chapel together.

All of the inmates accused in the attack were from unit three, while Green was from unit four.

Avis and Westera are seeking a stay of proceedings, which would halt prosecution.

Jody Clarke is another accused in the riot. Philip Pynn, who was convicted of manslaughter earlier this month, is going to be tried separately. Justin Wiseman and Paul Connolly have already been convicted and sentenced.

The Crown and defence will argue the application on Dec. 2.

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