No appeal sought in decision not to try 2 officers in Bathurst shooting death

Michel Vienneau's family hopes inquest into 2015 shooting death will provide answers

Two Bathurst police officers cleared by two courts in the shooting death of businessman Michel Vienneau at the local train station will face no more attempts at prosecution, provincial prosecutors announced Monday. 

​Patrick Bulger, 38, and Mathieu Boudreau, 28, were charged with manslaughter in Vienneau's 2015 death, but the charges were dropped in February when provincial court Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman ruled there wasn't enough evidence to proceed to trial.

The Crown sought a judicial review of that decision, hoping to have it overruled, but Court of Queen's Bench Justice Tracey DeWare dismissed the application in October.

"After a careful review of the decision on judicial review, a reassessment of the threshold test for prosecution was conducted," public prosecutions said in a statement on Monday morning.

"Based on operational policies and having regard to the provincial court decision and the Court of Queen's Bench decision in this case, public prosecution services will not seek an appeal of the Court of Queen's Bench decision."

Vienneau, a 51-year-old Tracadie businessman, was shot and killed in a Via Rail parking lot on Jan. 12, 2015, when police were attempting to arrest him, acting on a tip he was carrying "a load of drugs" back with him from Montreal.

The tip proved to be false.

Bulger and Boudreau were charged with manslaughter by means of an unlawful act, assault with a weapon, and unlawfully pointing a firearm.

A preliminary inquiry was held to determine if there was sufficient evidence to proceed to a trial. On Feb. 24, 2017, Dugas-Horsman ruled the Crown did not meet the threshold for committal to trial.

In August, public prosecution services argued the judge failed to consider all relevant evidence at the preliminary hearing and committed a jurisdictional error in her decision.

On Oct. 20, DeWare found Dugas-Horsman considered all the evidence and did not exceed her jurisdiction in her ruling.

Public prosecutions had up to 30 days to appeal.

In Monday's statement, the office said its decisions about whether to proceed with criminal matters are based on "the dual considerations of whether sufficient evidence exists to demonstrate that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and whether it is in the public interest to prosecute."

"In any prosecution, it is the obligation of the prosecutor to reassess the prospect of conviction as a file moves through the prosecution process," the statement said.

"A file that initially met the test for prosecution may not continue to meet the test for prosecution as the matter progresses."

Brian Munro, the lawyer for Bulger, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bulger, of Beresford, and Boudreau, of Dunlop, who were both suspended with pay from the police force after the charges were laid, have been back at work since being cleared.

Evidence presented during the preliminary inquiry and judicial review has been under a publication ban.

Public prosecution services is independent and does not act on direction from the provincial government in the discharge of its responsibilities.