Accused in Radiohead stage collapse asking Ontario court to stay charges

Emergency personnel on scene near a collapsed stage at Downsview Park in Toronto on Saturday, June 16, 2012.
Emergency personnel on scene near a collapsed stage at Downsview Park in Toronto on Saturday, June 16, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO – Lawyers for an entertainment company and an engineer accused in a deadly 2012 stage collapse at an outdoor Radiohead concert in Toronto are asking an Ontario court to stay the charges against them.

The entertainment company Live Nation and an engineer, Domenic Cugliari, argued Monday that the case has seen unreasonable delays that violate their right to a timely trial.

The case had already spanned years when it was further set back by a mistrial this spring. A new trial was ordered after the presiding judge, Justice Shaun Nakatsuru, was appointed to a higher court and ruled he no longer had jurisdiction over the case.

READ MORE: New trial ordered in deadly stage collapse at Radiohead concert in Toronto

By the time the new trial is scheduled to wrap up next May, it will have been close to five years since the charges were laid – far beyond the time limits established by the Supreme Court of Canada, lawyers for Live Nation and Cugliari said in their submissions.

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“We’ll have reached the point where any complexity (in the case) cannot possibly justify the delay,” said Jack Siegel, who represents Live Nation.

New time limits established by Canada’s highest court last year state that cases heard in provincial court should go to trial within 18 months and those heard in Superior Court should do so within 30 months.

READ MORE: Radiohead postpones more shows after fatal stage collapse in Toronto

Under the rules laid out by the landmark ruling in R vs Jordan, delays caused by the defence or by unexpected “discrete” events are subtracted from the total time.

Siegel and Scott Thompson, who represents Cugliari, argued that the mistrial should not be considered a discrete event since the justice system was responsible for Nakatsuru’s appointment.

The judge could have requested to have the appointment deferred or turned it down, Siegel said.

It’s the second time the defence has sought to have the charges in the case thrown out over unreasonable delays. An earlier application was dismissed last fall by Nakatsuru, who found the case was complex enough to warrant a longer timeframe.

READ MORE: One person dead in Toronto stage collapse

Live Nation, Toronto-area contractor Optex Staging and Cugliari were charged in 2013 with a total of 13 charges under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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Optex Staging has not applied for a stay of its charges but the judge has agreed that the company will face the same fate as Live Nation on the issue.

A British drum technician who was touring with Radiohead was killed and three other workers were hurt after part of a massive outdoor structure came crashing down during setup for the June 2012 concert at Downsview Park.

A decision on Monday’s application is expected mid-September, Siegel said. A new trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 5 but the lawyer said it will not hear from witnesses on that day.