‘Violations of a publication ban might jeopardize charges:’ Brockville police on Damian Sobieraj case

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Brockville Police raising concerns about online comments possibly violating a publication ban
Police in Brockville are asking residents to be careful while posting on social media. They say they have received a number of complaints about people naming a suspect protected by a publication ban – Nov 8, 2018

Brockville police are raising concerns over a high-profile investigation that’s making its way through the courts.

Investigators say although there is a publication ban surrounding the case, people are repeatedly naming the suspect, a 15-year-old young offender.

The youth is facing charges of manslaughter in relation to the death of 33-year-old Damian Sobieraj.

“We’ve received calls from members of the public complaining that people are naming the youth involved in this occurrence,” says Staff-Sgt. Tom Fournier.

Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the individuals’ name, gender and other facts of the case are shielded by a court-ordered publication ban — protecting any information that may identify the accused.

But police say that hasn’t stopped several people from breaking the ban on social media.

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Some comments directly name the suspect, others identify the gender of the accused. Investigators say revealing information like this can be a problem.

READ MORE: Brockville teen accused of manslaughter released on bail

“Repeated violations of the ban might jeopardize the charges that are before the court,” says Fournier.

“We need to serve and protect the judicial process to ensure that there’s a fair trial.”

Any time there is a trial before the courts, the Crown attorney, defense lawyer or judge can ask for a publication ban. In this case, because the offender is under 18, they are protected as well.

Although people may think a ban is just for mainstream media, like Global News, police say publishing revealing details on social media is also a violation.

READ MORE: Youth-run gang reportedly ‘terrorizing’ Brockville community

“There may be a misunderstanding in the community that social media is not included as media,” says Fournier. “It applies to all forms of media and is common in serious cases where there is a vulnerable victim or accused.”

If Brockville police or the courts decided to pursue charges, violators could be charged under Section 127 of the Criminal Code for breaching a court order. No one has been charged as of yet.

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The case involves the mysterious death of a 33-year-old man. His body was found in the water, off of Brockville’s Hardy Park after he called police reporting a disturbance.

A 15-year-old youth faces charges of manslaughter, assault, criminal negligence causing death and obstructing police.

The individual was released on bail earlier this week and appears in court again on Nov. 27.

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