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Thursday, June 25, 2020 @ 6:06 AM  

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Application by Haughton for bail review. Haughton, who was 47 years old, was charged with numerous offences, including 39 counts of breaking and entering and committing an indictable offence, 29 counts of failing to comply with probation, dangerous driving and flight from police. The charges related to 40 break-ins that were perpetrated over a four-month period. The targeted premises were independent storefronts. Haughton was arrested on the charges on Feb. 14, 2019. Police officers observed him on that date as he exited through the broken glass of the front door of a restaurant. When Haughton was arrested, he was in possession of $5,000. On Oct. 15, 2019, the justice of the peace ordered Haughton detained on the secondary ground. She did not address the tertiary ground. This hearing took place in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of the courts to all but certain urgent applications. Haughton was requesting to be released on a recognizance in the amount of $3,000 with his father acting as his surety. It was proposed that he live with his parents and be subject to house arrest unless he was in the direct company of his father or for medical reasons. Haughton took the position that the COVID-19 pandemic tipped the scales in favour of his release, particularly since he suffered from asthma. The Crown strongly opposed the application and submitted that Haughton’s continued detention was justified on both the secondary and tertiary grounds. The Crown took the position that the protection of the public in this case overrode the health risks attached to Haughton remaining in custody.

HELD: Application dismissed. The exceptional circumstances of the pandemic clearly satisfied the requirements for a material change in circumstances. There could be material delays in the time to trial because of the emergency conditions, and there were potential additional risks associated with Haughton’s continued incarceration. The court accepted that Haughton had asthma and would therefore be more vulnerable if he were to contract COVID-19. The threat posed by the pandemic was a factor that was relevant to both the secondary and tertiary grounds. The Crown’s case appeared to be strong. On several counts, it appeared to be very strong. Haughton had a lengthy criminal record with multiple convictions for failing to comply with court orders. There was little evidence that Haughton’s father had any success over the years in influencing Haughton’s behaviour. The plan of release was wholly inadequate, and Haughton’s risk of reoffending was substantial. The risk to public safety in this case had to override the health risks related to Haughton remaining in custody. Furthermore, confidence in the administration of justice would be seriously eroded if Haughton were released on bail. Haughton’s continued detention was therefore justified on both the secondary and tertiary grounds.

R. v. Haughton, [2020] O.J. No. 2110, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, N.E. Garton J., May 8, 2020. Digest No. TLD-June222020008