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Man pleads guilty to common assault after gravel thrown at Justin Trudeau during London, Ont., campaign event

Shane Marshall, 24, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to common assault, admitting he threw gravel in the direction of Justin Trudeau as the Liberal leader stepped aboard a campaign bus in September 2021. (CBC - image credit)
Shane Marshall, 24, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to common assault, admitting he threw gravel in the direction of Justin Trudeau as the Liberal leader stepped aboard a campaign bus in September 2021. (CBC - image credit)

A 24-year-old man has pleaded guilty to assault stemming from an incident at an election campaign event in London, Ont., in September 2021 when gravel was thrown in the direction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Shane Marshall of St. Thomas entered a guilty plea Tuesday to the lesser charge of common assault, on the same day his trial on charges of assault with a weapon was supposed to start.

Marshall, a former People's Party of Canada riding association president, declined to speak with reporters outside the courtroom in London. His lawyer, Luke Reidy, said the plea likely means his client will avoid jail time in sentencing.

"I'll be communicating with the Crown's office on sentencing and there will probably be a joint submission on sentencing, and that was largely the incentive for the plea this morning," said Reidy.

In an agreed statement of facts read in court, Marshall admitted he picked up a handful of gravel and threw it in the direction of Trudeau and a crowd of security people and supporters as the Liberal leader stepped aboard a campaign bus. Trudeau was leaving a campaign stop at a brewery in East London on the evening of Sept. 6, 2021, two weeks before the federal election and he was re-elected as prime minister.

Trudeau was not injured.

Marshall was charged days later, after police reviewed social media images of the incident and matched Marshall with a mug shot on file with the St. Thomas police.

PM didn't have to testify

Marshall's guilty plea came a day after his lawyers argued unsuccessfully in Ontario Superior Court to subpoena Trudeau to testify in the case.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Marshall's lawyers said they wanted to question Trudeau about what they saw as conflicting statements about the rock-throwing incident in the days after it happened. Trudeau's lawyers argued successfully for the subpoena to be quashed.

Reidy said Trudeau's testimony was crucial to giving his client a fair and full trial, and not having it was a factor in Marshall opting to plead guilty.

"Because our rights had been limited in our ability to question the prime minister, we had discussions with Mr. Marshall and looked at the potential consequences," said Reidy.

The sentencing is scheduled for May 1 in a London courtroom.