Things are cookin’

A game of hot potato with The Bijou

Who’s in charge of the Bijou case?

Police and Crowns seem to be like the scarecrow in the Wizard Of Oz, pointing in different directions all at once.

Last month, Calvin Barry said he was in charge. This month, his boss, Chief Crown Attorney Paul Culver, says that ain’t so.

Culver also says he’s not in charge. He’s denying reports that he is taking over the Bijou file.

“That’s not correct,” he says.

Culver says the case hasn’t been assigned to anyone yet. He insists that he doesn’t assign cases until trial dates are set.

Told that 52 Division head Aidan Maher and defence lawyer Robert Christie both confirmed Barry as the lead, Culver then says: “I’ve taken it over in the sense that I oversee every case.”

He does confirm that a request has been put forward to see the charges dropped.

Culver also says that the request did not come from defence lawyers — who are representing some 19 men charged with committing an indecent act. They were arrested during a series of police raids on The Bijou, which did not end until the licenced porn theatre was finally shut down by its owner.

But he won’t say who is trying to get the charges squashed.

“I’m reviewing it, but not in the capacity of, ‘I’m going to do the case.’ I’m doing it in the capacity that I would review any other type of charge that’s laid.”

He says an announcement on the charges could come down by early September.

“I’ve scheduled different meetings to see what evidence there is. Once there’s sufficient material to enable me or whoever I decide to make the decision to review it, then we’ll announce in court what our decision is.”

Police have refused to release court dates for the men – and Culver claims he’s still waiting for that information, too.

“As you probably know,” Culver says, “we weren’t consulted prior to the laying of any charges. Our obligation once the charge is laid is to review it. Not just this charge, but any charge, to determine whether there’s a reasonable prospect of conviction given the facts and the law, and secondarily to determine whether it’s in the public interest to proceed.”

However, if Culver decides to proceed, he wouldn’t say whether the 19 will be tried separately or together.

“I don’t think any decision has been made on that. They were charged separately, so, assuming we can get all the cases together at one place and at one time and they all have counsel and everyone agrees on a date, I don’t see why not.”


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