Well, the case of Constable Geoff Mantler is slowly starting to grind its way through B.C.’s clogged up justice system. Here’s The Globe story I wrote today.
Mantler’s lawyer, Neil McDougall, showed up in court today with plans to plead not guilty on behalf of his client in the case involving Manjit Singh Bhatti. The details of this case are not widely known as the media became aware of it only when the Crown announced the charges against Mantler. However, police wouldn’t release details and no one in the media has secured an interview with Bhatti so we still don’t know anything about it.
Turns out, McDougall couldn’t officially enter a plea today because of a paperwork foul-up. Seems the charge was initially laid “by indictement” (which carries higher maximum penalties) rather than “summarily” because it was laid more than six months after the Aug. 30 date of the alleged incident and summary charges have a six month statute of limitations. Mantler has waived any objections to missing that deadline, but the Crown counsel overseeing the file apparently put contradictory notes in it as to how the charge is proceeding. The lawyer standing in for the Crown didn’t want to make a decision, so the matter was put off.
As for the widely known case involving Buddy Tavares,who was kicked in the head while being arrested in an incident caught on video and posted to YouTube, McDougall still needs time to digest all the evidence in the case before entering a plea, though it certainly sounded like a not guilty plea is coming in this case too. We should know what is happening on July 12, when the plan is to officially enter pleas on both counts.
But after that, get ready for a lot of waiting. The Bhatti case -if it only needs one day as McDougall thinks- will not get a trial date for at least 8-12 months because of how backlogged the system is. As for the Tavares case, which will take at least several days, “I suspect we’re looking at a long time down the road,” said McDougall.
It will be interesting to see if the RCMP -which has already taken the very unusual step of suspending Mantler with pay- waits until the charges are taken care of before deciding on internal discipline.
Here’s my Globe story from three weeks ago, when the RCMP took away Mantler’s pay.