column was published in the
July 28, 1999)
scrutiny key to justice system
By Leo Knight
of the cornerstones of our democracy relates to the justice
old maxim states that justice must not only be done, but it must
be seen to be done. In simple terms, our courts are supposed to
be open to the public and the media to act as watchdogs to
ensure the system is working in the manner that we, the public,
is with these thoughts in mind we need to have a look at a court
case taking place in Vancouver at 222 Main St.
case involves a 24-year-old man from Langdale on the Sunshine
Coast. Now, it must first be understood that I cannot discuss
certain elements of this case because it is still before the
courts. But, since no ban on publication currently exists,
information brought out in open court can be reported.
accused, Douglas Andrew Macintyre, has managed to rally a whole
community. Unfortunately for him, they are decidedly not on his
case began last March when, in an unprecedented move, the police
in Gibsons were informed by a psychologist about Macintyre's
psychological state and his sadistic fantasies about little
girls aged six to 12. The police were alarmed at the information
provided and began paying attention to the guy who, they were to
learn, was often running around after dark wearing full
camouflage gear and carrying weapons.
information concerning violations of the Wildlife Act the
Mounties raided Macintyre's house. Among other things found, the
RCMP discovered a document described to the court as a plan to
kidnap and rape two young girls after rendering them
was arrested to appear in court on what is called a section 810
application. Essentially the police believed he was about to
commit a serious offence and section 810 allows the court to
place significant restrictions and conditions on an individual
to, hopefully, prevent the offence from being committed. In
police cells, Macintyre allegedly threatened a Mountie. He also
allegedly threatened two children of another officer.
threats make up two of the additional charges currently facing
he appeared the next day in Sechelt court, he went, well, crazy,
for lack of a better description. With his legs shackled and
handcuffed, he made a break for it after threatening everyone in
sight. He tried to take a flier through a window on the second
floor. He broke the glass in diving through, but he didn't count
on the security bars.
took five police officers and a couple of sheriffs to corral him
and cart him back to cells. At this point the judge prudently
decided a change of venue was in order. He sent the case to
Vancouver which has secure facilities for this type of prisoner.
Vancouver he was seen by a psychiatrist who later stated
Macintyre "presented a significant risk" of acting out
his sadistic fantasies unless he received treatment involving
concerned were the people of Langdale that they sent a
contingent of "court watch" people to every scheduled
hearing date to ensure the matter was dealt with appropriately.
At one such hearing in May, Sechelt school district superintendent Clifford Smith was standing in a queue in the courthouse coffee shop during the mid-morning adjournment when he overheard a prosecutor, Garth Gibson, complaining about the waste of money and time it was for all the people from Langdale coming over to watch the proceedings.
then introduced himself to Gibson and was given both barrels.
The conversation moved to a table and was joined by a Mountie
who set Gibson straight on the rights and motivations of the
community. For the record, Gibson later apologized.
the group returned to court they sat around and watched the
judge do a crossword with his clerk. As the clock approached
noon, the judge told the group from Langdale that nothing
further would occur until the afternoon. The group departed for
lunch. Except for one who remained behind.
case was then called forward and further matters were heard and
another date set. If not for the man who remained behind, the
case would have proceeded without the watchful eyes of the
people who have children in the area in which Macintyre lives.
Friday the group from Langdale was told the matter was to be
dealt with by way of a guilty plea. When they turned up in court
it appeared the deal had nothing to do with the alleged threats
to the police officer's kids, something they were adamant about.
Chris Johnson dug his heels in and the deal was scuttled, much
to the anger of defence counsel Brian Coleman, who then
questioned who was running the case, the Crown or the citizen's
group. Coleman, a highly respected member of the defence bar,
then, in a move quite out of character, went into the corridor
and got into a heated discussion with the group from Langdale.
it would be in the defence's benefit to have the proceedings go
ahead without the watchful and critical eyes of the concerned
citizens of Langdale. But clearly they don't trust the system to
look after their interests. And that, dear reader, is a tragic
reflection of what is wrong with our justice system.
the plea bargain in the trash, the case resumes on Aug. 10.
There will be a delegation present from Langdale. The courts,
the Crown and the defence may not like this type of scrutiny,
but it is the town's right and duty to do what it can to protect
Frankly it's too bad more people didn't care as much.