Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut November 07, 2017 - 8:00 am

City of Iqaluit, employees expected to plead guilty to safety charges

Accused parties to plead guilty Dec. 6 following plea agreement

STEVE DUCHARME
Next month, as part of a plea agreement, the City of Iqaluit and three of its employees are expected to plead guilty to charges laid last year under Nunavut's Safety Act. (FILE PHOTO)
Next month, as part of a plea agreement, the City of Iqaluit and three of its employees are expected to plead guilty to charges laid last year under Nunavut's Safety Act. (FILE PHOTO)

The City of Iqaluit and three of its employees will plead guilty in December to charges laid under Nunavut’s Safety Act, stemming from a workplace accident that seriously injured another city employee last year, a Crown lawyer said in court Nov. 6.

Crown lawyer Narissa Somji, speaking by phone at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit, Nov. 6, said an “agreement in principle” on pleas has been reached between prosecutors, the City of Iqaluit and three accused employees: Keith Baines, Ben Kovic Jr. and Joseph Brown.

The accused parties will formally enter their guilty pleas in court on Dec. 6, in Iqaluit, before proceeding directly to sentencing, Somji said.

Lawyers did not elaborate on the details of the plea agreement, but Somji told Justice Earl Johnson that the Crown would file all relevant documents with the court for review ahead of the December appearance.

The Nunavut Safety Act charges relate to an incident on April 18, 2016, when city worker James Dorrington sustained near-fatal injuries at the landfill site after he was run over by a city garbage truck.

That incident, which went unreported by city administration to Iqaluit’s city council for over a week, prompted a seizure in July 2016 of city hall records by the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission, after the watchdog agency was granted a search warrant.

The City of Iqaluit, Baines and Kovic Jr. were charged with nine combined chargers under the Safety Act in January while an additional three charges were laid in April 2017 against the City of Iqaluit’s superintendent of public works, Joseph Brown.

The WSCC alleged in April that Brown “failed to take all reasonable precautions to ensure the health and safety of persons,” and also failed to ensure that city supervisors had completed regular programs in accordance with health and safety regulations.

Baines, Kovic Jr. and representatives of the City of Iqaluit attended the hearing, while Brown listened to proceedings via a teleconference line.

According to the Safety Act, each count carries a potential fine of up to $500,000, up to a year in jail, or both, if found guilty.

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