Doug Snelgrove re-trial jury selected amid COVID-19 courtroom concerns

A new jury will file into a St. John’s courtroom Wednesday morning to hear the opening statements in a sexual assault re-trial for Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Const. Doug Snelgrove.

This is the first time a jury will hear arguments since COVID-19 restrictions closed courts in March.

In an unprecedented move, Justice Garrett Handrigan granted multiple jury duty exemptions based on fears of COVID-19 transmission from Ontario Provincial Police officers present in the courtroom this week.

Handrigan addressed over 100 potential jurors Tuesday morning, notifying them OPP officers had been in the building to observe the trial and had not been required to self-isolate on arrival.

He invited exemption requests from those concerned about possible coronavirus exposure. Later on Tuesday, Handrigan barred the officers from being in the courtroom, and discussed other ways they might follow the trial.

“I don’t want a COVID outbreak starting [at] this trial,” he said. “However we can accommodate them otherwise, we will. But not here in this building.”

Health Minister John Haggie said Tuesday the officers are considered essential workers, and are permitted to go directly from their hotel or residence to the workplace. A 14-day isolation period would be waived, he said.

“If someone is deemed essential, then the criteria around the exemption are very clear,” he told reporters. “They are expected to isolate when not either on their way to work or at work, and when they are at work they’re expected to follow COVID-19 precautions.”

The former School for the Deaf has been transformed into a makeshift courtroom for the trial. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

That includes wearing masks and following physical distancing guidelines, he said.

“My understanding is that they have done that.”

It’s not clear whether the officers were tested for coronavirus upon arrival in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Second trial for Snelgrove

The jury will decide the fate of Snelgrove, who is being tried for the second time for the same sexual assault charge.

The incident under scrutiny occurred in December 2014. The Ontario Provincial Police were called to investigate, and arrested and charged Snelgrove in 2015.

He stood trial for the first time in 2017. An appeals court overturned that verdict a year later.

The Supreme Court trial is being held at the former School for the Deaf in St. John’s.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Doug Snelgrove re-trial jury selected amid COVID-19 courtroom concerns

Aggregated from: CBC | Newfoundland and Labrador News

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