Nova Scotia

7 days for Zinck preliminary hearing

Nova Scotia MLA Trevor Zinck — one of the four accused in an expense scandal — is challenging the Crown to prove it has enough evidence to proceed with a trial.

Nova Scotia MLA Trevor Zinck — one of the four accused in an expense scandal — is challenging the Crown to prove it has enough evidence to proceed with a trial.

Zinck's lawyer says they need seven days for a preliminary hearing.

"I definitely want to question whether there is enough evidence," defence lawyer Lyle Howe told reporters Tuesday.

"It's their onus to demonstrate that there is enough evidence, and we'd like to see them meet that burden before we head to trial."

Howe appeared in court Tuesday on behalf of his client, who faces charges of theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust.

Zinck, an Independent MLA, is due in court on June 28 to set a date for the preliminary hearing.

Chief Crown attorney Andrew Macdonald said he's prepared to move forward with the case.

"We wouldn't be proceeding if we weren't confident that we had enough [evidence] to go to trial. Our test is whether we have a realistic prospect of conviction, and we believe we have that," Macdonald said.

Both Macdonald and Howe say there is a lot of information to go through.

Macdonald said there aren't many witnesses, but a couple of them can expect to be on the stand for quite some time.

"There is a significant amount of evidence in this case … that we will be going through thoroughly with the witnesses to show that we have the evidence to put Mr. Zinck on trial in Supreme Court," he said.

Three former MLAs are also charged. The cases of Liberal Russell MacKinnon, Liberal Dave Wilson and Progressive Conservative Richard Hurlburt are winding through the court system.

List of charges:

MacKinnon - Fraud, breach of trust, 8 counts of uttering forged documents

Hurlburt - Fraud, breach of trust, 3 counts of uttering forged documents

Zinck - Fraud, breach of trust, theft over $5,000

Wilson - Fraud, breach of trust, 31 counts of uttering forged documents

MacKinnon has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of uttering forged documents and one count each of fraud and breach of trust. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 16.

Macdonald said unlike Zinck, MacKinnon is agreeing to go to trial so his hearing will only take one day.

Hurlburt is due back in court on Aug. 31 for election and plea on three counts of uttering forged documents, fraud, and breach of trust.

Wilson is charged with 31 counts of uttering forged documents, fraud, and breach of trust. He is due in court on July 7 for election and plea.

Nova Scotia RCMP's commercial crime section laid the charges in February after an eight-month investigation.

Auditor General Jacques Lapointe turned over his files to the RCMP after he looked at MLA spending between July 2006 and June 2009 and found  "excessive" and "unreasonable" claims by some of the province's 52 MLAs.

In the aftermath of that audit, Hurlburt and Wilson resigned their seats. Zinck was later kicked out of the NDP caucus.

MacKinnon was an MLA until 2006.

Corrections

  • An initial version of this story said Trevor Zinck had entered a not guilty plea to charges of theft, fraud and breach of trust. In fact, Zinck has not entered a plea to the charges.
    Oct 12, 2013 2:56 AM AT

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