Ascendion Law has successfully defended the CEO of the former Banks Island Gold Inc. in a second trial associated with the alleged tailings spill at the Banks Island Gold mine site near Prince Rupert, BC.
Earlier this year, Ascendion Law obtained 27 acquittals of charges alleged against Benjamin Mossman, CEO, and 29 charges alleged against Dirk Meckert, Chief Geologist of involving the federal Fisheries Act, and the provincial Environmental Management Act, and the Water Act. After these acquittals, Crown Counsel pressed ahead with a second trial alleging that Mr. Mossman obstructed the investigation into the alleged spill. This was the first time this section of the Mines Act had ever been prosecuted in British Columbia.
In early March 2019, the Provincial Court of B.C. acquitted Mr. Mossman of all allegations, dismissing charges of obstruction of justice. The court found not only that Mr. Mossman was "not guilty", but in fact, Mr. Mossman was "telling the truth" when he spoke with mines inspectors.
Further, the Crown failed to prove that the mines inspectors were obstructed in any way. In fact, based on the evidence, when mines inspectors received information about an alleged discharge at the Banks Island Gold mine site, they successfully accelerated a previously planned mine inspection and conducted the investigation at the earliest opportunity.
Once again, Ascendion Law achieved success by a careful reading of the law and analysis of the Crown's case. In the main trial, neither client had to testify in their defense. Rather, through carefully planned and argued challenges to evidence based on violations of the Charter (an unlawful search and seizure, a statement taken without proper Charter warnings, and an abuse of regulatory compulsion powers to obtain evidence used in a criminal proceeding), and statutory interpretation arguments that enabled Ascendion Law to obtain acquittals in all but two very minor charges.
In the obstruction trial, Ascendion Law illustrated that an obvious reading of the emails delineated between past and present tenses, leading to the conclusion that Mr. Mossman was telling the truth. And, inspectors had never been hindered in any way by Mr. Mossman's actions.
The Crown has appealed all acquittals from the main trial. The Crown is also challenging the court's Charter rulings, specifically the arguments involving Mssrs. Mossman and Meckert's right to counsel on detention and the allegation of the state's abuse of their regulatory compulsion authority.
This summary conviction appeal will be argued in B.C. Supreme Court sitting in Prince Rupert for one week starting May 5, 2019, and Ascendion is prepared to once again provide a vigorous defense of its clients.