Missing co-accused and busy court docket create scheduling trouble for Moncton drug case

·3 min read
An extended discussion about potential trial dates took place, despite one of the co-accused missing their appearance Monday in Moncton's Court of Queen's Bench. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada - image credit)
An extended discussion about potential trial dates took place, despite one of the co-accused missing their appearance Monday in Moncton's Court of Queen's Bench. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Trial dates for two people accused of drug offences in Moncton couldn't be set Monday because one of them failed to show up in court.

Difficulty finding time for the two-week trial led a judge to voice concerns about scheduling the case at a time that could violate the right to timely trials.

The concerns reflected a packed court schedule that recently led to the Court of Queen's Bench adjourning civil, family and other cases because of an "unprecedented" number of jury trials, child protection matters and judge vacancies, according to internal memos from the chief justice.

Sylvio Saulnier, 47, and Emma Gilker, 32, were jointly charged in February 2021 with possession of methamphetamine and cocaine for purpose of trafficking, as well as  with conspiring with other people to commit an indictable offence. The alleged offences occurred between July 4, 2019, and Sept. 1, 2019.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

Both were required to appear in court Monday in the Court of Queen's Bench in Moncton. Saulnier appeared by phone and was represented by lawyer Michel DesNeiges.

However, Gilker wasn't present. Defence lawyer Mathieu Boutet told Justice Robert Dysart she had been aware of the court date. Gilker is on bail with a condition he appear in court as required. Dysart issued an arrest warrant for Gilker.

Despite Gilker's absence, there was an extended discussion about the difficulty setting trial dates for the case.

The court had proposed dates in February and March 2023, though DesNeiges and Boutet are unavailable because of other trials.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

Crown prosecutor Christian Girouard told Dysart they had dates in September 2023 suitable for the 10-day trial that is expected to include more than 20 witnesses.

However, Dysart said the dates would be beyond the 30-month limit established in R. v. Jordan. The 2016 decision created a limit on how much time can pass between charges being laid and the expected conclusion of the trial.

Dysart said the defendants and lawyers would have to waive their right established by that case if the trial is set for September 2023.

If they don't, he said the court would set it earlier and the lawyers would have to figure out what to do.

DesNeiges said he could likely reschedule his other cases to make the earlier dates work. The judge noted Boutet has a jury trial in that timeframe. The lawyers asked the court to keep the September dates reserved.

"They're penciled in, as it were. There's no ink on it," judge said.

Saulnier and Gilker's case is expected to return to court Aug. 2 if police can locate her.

Fair Haven Funeral Home
Fair Haven Funeral Home

Saulnier owned a duplex on Dominion Street that was raided by RCMP on Aug. 28, 2019, as part of an alleged drug-trafficking operation.

An RCMP news release from 2019 says the execution of five search warrants resulted in the seizure of about 14.5 kilograms of what was believed to be methamphetamine and about 880 grams of what was believed to be "cocaine/crack cocaine."

The charges laid against Saulnier allege he possessed methamphetamine and cocaine on Aug. 28, 2019, the day of the RCMP searches.

Parents killed days later

The case has drawn attention because Saulnier's parents, 78-year-old Bernard Saulnier and 74-year-old Rose-Marie Saulnier were found dead in their Amirault Street home on Sept. 7, 2019. No one has been arrested or charged in connection with their deaths.

An RCMP spokesperson previously said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on any possible connections between the raids and the couple's deaths.

This month, RCMP released photos of jewelry police believe belonged to the couple. The jewelry was found in a fire pit at a home on Route 635 in Lake George, about 45 kilometres west of Fredericton, following a suspicious fire on May 19, 2020.

It wasn't clear why police waited two years to seek information from the public about the jewelry.

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