Sudbury·ELLIOT LAKE

Former engineer testifies he believed Elliot Lake mall owner would fix multiple leaks

Discredited engineer Robert Wood wrapped up his testimony about his last report on Elliot Lake's Algo Centre Mall, before part of the building collapsed.

Robert Wood has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence in the 2012 fatal mall collapse

Robert Wood's trial is taking place in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., at his request.

The now discredited engineer who declared the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., "structurally sound" two months before a portion of the building collapsed, has finished testifying at his trial.

Robert Wood, who is in his mid-60s, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, was in the witness box for the fifth day Monday.

He testified in Superior Court today that there was evidence of leakage in several stores and at the lottery kiosk —  the location of the building's eventual collapse.

Despite the leakage, Wood — who was working for M.R. Wright and Associates at the time — declared the building structurally sound in April 2012.

On June 23, 2012, a portion of the rooftop parking deck caved in sending concrete and metal crashing down two floors, injuring about 20 people, and killing Lucie Aylwin, 37, and Doloris Perizzolo, 74, who were at the lottery booth.

When Crown prosecutor Marc Huneault asked Wood why his final inspection report omitted the word "ongoing" when describing the leakage, Wood said he was told by mall owner, Bob Nazarian, that the problems would be fixed by staff.

Wood is the only person criminally charged in connection to the mall collapse. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

His trial is taking place in Sault Ste. Marie at his request. Wood originally hails from London, England, but has lived most of his life in Sault Ste. Marie.

Wood was discredited as an engineer before his 2012 inspection of Algo Centre Mall in unrelated matter, in which he confessed to professional misconduct because of a bridge rehabilitation project that he worked on had errors.

His engineering licence from Professional Engineers Ontario, the organization that oversees engineers, was taken away. 

Wood testified in court last week that he did not closely examine the beam that eventually gave way at the mall during his final inspection. He said he did note look more closely because there were no signs of leakage in the area. 

Wood also told the court that, when he visited the mall, he did not see a rusty hole in a wall — a hole that a witness took a photo of, one day after Wood's last inspection. 

 

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