Two people have been released on bail while a third has been sent for a psychiatric evaluation after being arrested for allegedly violating the province's COVID-19 restrictions during an anti-mask protest in Moncton on Sunday.
Bathurst residents Britney Green, 31, and Nicholas DeAngelis, 34, were among five arrested and charged at a protest at Moncton City Hall.
Crown prosecutor Maurice Blanchard argued Green should be held in custody pending trial based on repeated violations of the province's emergency measures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"At some point, enough is enough," Blanchard said during Green's bail hearing, which wasn't subject to a publication ban.
Provincial court Judge Brigitte Volpé decided to release Green. Following that decision, the Crown decided not to oppose DeAngelis's release given the case was based on similar facts.
Volpé ordered a third person arrested, 54-year-old David West of Riverview, to undergo a 30-day psychiatric evaluation at the request of duty counsel Guillaume LeBlanc.
"I'm just not all there in the head right now," West told the court before the judge issued the order. West returns to court Feb. 25.
Green, West and DeAngelis were all scheduled to appear in court for bail hearings one after the other on Thursday afternoon.
All appeared by video conference, Green from the New Brunswick Women's Correctional Centre in Miramichi and the other two from the Southeast Regional Correctional Centre in Shediac.
New charges were laid against all three alleging they violated the Emergency Measures Act by failing to wear a mask in public spaces on several occasions.
Criminal charges laid
They also face criminal charges in connection with an alleged incident at the the Superstore on Main Street in Moncton on Dec. 31.
Those charges include causing a disturbance by screaming, interfering with lawful use of property, resisting police officers and obstructing police.
Blanchard told Volpé that Green had been warned about failing to wear a mask in December at Walmart, a Superstore in Moncton, No Frills in Shediac, the Champlain Place mall in Dieppe and a Superstore in Moncton.
"At some point, this has to stop," Blanchard said. "Ms. Green has shown right now she does not want to follow the rules."
Green testified during her bail hearing that she has a doctor's note exempting her from wearing a mask because of anxiety and claustrophobia.
Under cross-examination by Blanchard, she said the note was obtained through an online appointment with a doctor in Ontario.
Asked why she had a doctor in Ontario if she lives in New Brunswick, Green said she used an online form and "that's where this doctor is located." She said she found the doctor through an "online clinic."
Blanchard said the note exempts her from wearing a mask "if safe to do so."
In her decision, Volpé said she took the note into consideration when deciding to grant Green bail.
"This is bail hearing, not a trial," Volpé said. "So the rules of evidence are different, they're not the same. I do take this information into consideration for my decision today."
The judge said the Crown presented little information about Green's participation in the Moncton protest that led to her arrest.
"I have no information to permit me to evaluate the risk she may have posed that day," Volpé said.
An RCMP officer was present in the courtroom, but the Crown did not call on him to testify.
Had the judge denied bail, the province's Provincial Offences Procedure Act would have required a trial be set within eight days.
LeBlanc, the duty counsel lawyer, indicated that had that occurred, the defence would file a challenge alleging the short-time frame violates Green's charter rights by not allowing enough time to prepare an adequate defence.
Green and DeAngelis are scheduled to return to court March 10 to enter a plea on the charges they face.
Jonathan Rossiter, 29, of Nackawic, and Dawn Teakles, 49, of Moncton were also arrested and charged following the protest in Moncton on Sunday. Both were released on Monday and are scheduled to return to court Feb. 22.