Obstruction charge dropped against man in Cape Breton teenager’s death

Nathan Joneil Hanna, known as Joneil, is seen here with his daughter. GoFundMe

SYDNEY, N.S. – Nova Scotia prosecutors are dropping an obstruction of justice charge against a man in connection with the death of a 17-year-old boy who was struck and killed in June 2018 while walking home from a graduation party.

A spokeswoman for the public prosecution service said today it determined there was no realistic prospect of conviction and withdrew the charge.

The death of Joneil Hanna attracted provincewide attention after his parents criticized the police investigation, alleging Cape Breton Regional Police mishandled the case by failing to give the driver a breathalyzer test.

Read more: Halifax police to investigate complaint regarding Hanna investigation

At the time of the fatal collision in Leitches Creek, N.S., police said the 21-year-old driver, Hayden Kenneth Laffin of Bras d’Or, N.S, was “proven not impaired.”

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Laffin was later charged, however, with one count of attempting to obstruct justice in connection with the collision.

The case went to a preliminary inquiry last year, and Laffin was committed to stand trial.

Read more: Halifax police to investigate complaint regarding Hanna investigation

A Nova Scotia Police Review Board is scheduled to hear a complaint in early September from the Hanna family regarding the Cape Breton police’s handling of the case.

The Leitches Creek homeowners who hosted the graduation party were charged with allowing drunkenness on their property, which carries a maximum fine of $2,000 and six months in jail.

The prosecution service says those charges were dismissed in June 2019.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2020

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