Nova Scotia

Preliminary hearing wraps up into teen's death on Nova Scotia highway

Hayden Laffin, 21, will have to wait until June 12 to find out if he will be tried in the June 2018 death of 17-year-old Joneil Hanna.

Hayden Laffin is charged with wilfully obstructing justice after the car he was driving struck Joneil Hanna

Hayden Laffin is shown entering Sydney provincial court on Thursday, March 28, 2019, for his preliminary hearing. He is charged with wilfully obstructing justice in the death of Joneil Hanna, 17. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

It was an emotional day in Sydney provincial court Thursday as a preliminary hearing for Hayden Laffin, the driver of the car that fatally struck Joneil Hanna last June, wrapped up.

Hanna, 17, died after being hit on Highway 223 following a grad party at Leitches Creek. 

Laffin, 21, is charged with wilfully obstructing justice in the case.

Members of both families cried during Thursday's proceedings.  Evidence presented at a preliminary hearing is banned from publication.

Jennifer Hanna, mother of the victim, said she wants justice for her son. She has complained about a decision by police officers at the scene not to demand a sobriety test from Laffin following the crash.

Cape Breton Regional Police were called to the house party on June 10, 2018 over concerns there were a large number of people drinking and there was a potential for fights and impaired driving.

Jennifer Hanna, mother of Joneil Hanna, and her husband, Stephen Penney, are shown outside of Sydney provincial court Thursday, March 28, 2019. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

But police said at the time of the incident they didn't believe they had grounds to demand a sobriety test from Laffin.

"You know, we'll never get him [Joneil] back," Jennifer Hanna told reporters Thursday. "But I just want someone to be held accountable because he didn't deserve it."

In the courtroom, Hanna's family wore sweaters bearing the words "Justice for Joneil."

Police have publicly offered few details about the charge against Laffin, saying only that it stems from circumstances following the collision.

Justice David Ryan will deliver his ruling June 12 on whether the matter will proceed to trial.

"The judge taking his time to review everything is kind of nerve-racking," said Jennifer Hanna. "But I just hope for the best."

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