ELLIOT LAKE

1st witness in Elliot Lake mall collapse trial evokes memories for victim's dad

An Ontario Provincial Police officer is expected to continue his testimony on Thursday in the trial of a former engineer who declared a mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., "structurally sound" in 2012 just weeks before a rusty steel beam gave way, causing a collapse that killed two women and severely injured a survivor.

Defence plans on filing application to stay proceedings, alleging Crown violated accused's rights

Rejean Aylwin's daughter, Lucie, was killed when a portion of Elliot Lake's Algo Centre Mall collapsed in 2012. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

An Ontario Provincial Police officer is expected to continue his testimony on Thursday in the trial of a former engineer who declared a mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., "structurally sound" in 2012 just weeks before a rusty steel beam gave way, causing a collapse that killed two women and severely injured a survivor.

Robert Wood has pleaded not guilty to two counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in connection with the collapse. 

If convicted, he could face a life sentence. 

The Crown called its first witness on Wednesday at the Ontario Superior Court in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., to paint a picture of what the Algo Centre Mall looked like after part of its rooftop parking deck caved in.

OPP Const. Dale Burns was asked to describe the photos he took when he responded to the scene. He's expected to continue his account on Thursday. 

The images show mangled steel and slabs of concrete dangling from a collapsed ceiling.

Tables and chairs are scattered on the dark floor of a food court and piping is coming out of the walls.

Father in courtroom seeks answers

Rejean Aylwin's daughter, Lucie, 37, was found dead in the debris with Doloris Perizzolo, 74.

He sat in the front row of the courtroom with his eyes fixed on the slide show while Burns testified.

"I've seen them before," Aylwin said.

"It's not new, but it brings [back] memory."

Aylwin has made a 3½-hour drive to be at the courthouse. Ultimately, he wants to know why Wood did not prevent the tragedy. 

"He should be punished for what he did because, if it was his family, I'm sure he would be doing [it] different," he said.

Former engineer Robert Wood walks past reporters on Wednesday as he enters the courthouse in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Defence seeks to stay proceedings

The emotionally charged court case could be interrupted by a request from defence lawyer Robert MacRae, who intends to file an application with Justice Edward Gareau to stay the proceedings.

MacRae alleges the Crown violated Wood's right to be tried within a reasonable amount of time because Wood's charges were laid 32 months ago. 

Gareau said he will consider the application, but noted the trial has already begun.

About the Author

Olivia Stefanovich

Reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a network reporter for CBC News based in Toronto. She previously worked in Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @CBCOlivia. Send story ideas to olivia.stefanovich@cbc.ca.