Vigilante changes plea, admits to assault, unlawful confinement

Billy McGillicuddy of St. Croix has changed his plea to guilty on four of the six charges he faced after an assault in nearby McAdam. (Billy McGillicuddy/Facebook - image credit)
Billy McGillicuddy of St. Croix has changed his plea to guilty on four of the six charges he faced after an assault in nearby McAdam. (Billy McGillicuddy/Facebook - image credit)

What was supposed to be a trial date Monday turned into an admission of guilt by a New Brunswick man facing a handful of charges stemming from what's been framed as an act of vigilante justice earlier this year.

Billy McGillicuddy of St. Croix was scheduled to stand trial on charges that include assault with a weapon and possession of a weapon stemming from incidents that took place on June 4 in McAdam, about 75 kilometres southwest of Fredericton.

Instead, TJ Burke, McGillicuddy's defence lawyer, informed Fredericton provincial court Judge Cameron Gunn that his client decided to admit to the charges.

Gunn asked McGillicuddy if he understood that by doing so he would forfeit his right to a trial.

McGillicuddy, who has been in custody since his arrest and appeared in court wearing plain clothes, said he did.

The charges include two summary offences of possession of a weapon, a baseball bat, for the purpose of committing an offence, and of assaulting Blake Scott with a baseball bat.

The other two charges were indictable offences of assaulting Scott with a chair and unlawfully confining him.

A statement of facts was not shared in court Monday, as Crown prosecutor Darlene Blundston was feeling unwell.

Instead, it will be shared along with a victim impact statement on Nov. 14, when the sentence is delivered.

Ed Hunter/CBC
Ed Hunter/CBC

Speaking to CBC News later, Burke said two other indictable charges, of possession of a sawed-off shotgun for the purpose of committing an offence, and pointing the sawed-off shotgun, had been reserved.

He said he was working to have those two charges eventually withdrawn.

McGillicuddy was denied bail after his arrest in June.

He'd originally elected to be tried in Court of King's Bench on four of the charges but changed his election to a trial by judge alone in provincial court in order for it to be heard sooner.

Vigilante justice

About a dozen family members and supporters of McGillicuddy sat in court for the proceedings on Monday.

His first appearance in June drew a turnout of about 50 people, including McAdam Mayor Ken Stannix, who at the time said people in his village were getting frustrated with a rise in property crime.

Joe McDonald/CBC
Joe McDonald/CBC

"The criminals are getting away with everything," he said.

"I wanted to support the individuals who allegedly took the law into their own hands."

Those concerns led the RCMP to hold a town hall meeting in the village to let residents air their grievances about crime and how police could improve their response.

Stannix said in August that the meeting resulted in the RCMP starting night patrols in the village.