White Rock man still in custody on chemicals charges a year later
A man arrested one year ago in connection with a cache of chemicals found in White Rock remains in custody despite an effort last summer to have him released on grounds of unreasonable delay.
According to a ruling handed down in August – but only posted online last month – Justice Anthony Saunders found that while the delay in proceedings against Hamish Norman Sutherland “is perhaps right at the outer edge of what is considered to be reasonable given the right to a speedy trial, and given the presumption of innocence, there has not been unreasonable delay in these circumstances.”
Sutherland, 35, has been in custody since his arrest last Jan. 24. He was charged after a tip about chemicals that may pose “a significant risk to public safety” led police to a third-floor apartment in the 15100-block of Prospect Avenue.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges – which include making or possessing explosives – in June, and a 10-day trial is set for next month.
In finding Sutherland’s pre-trial detention not unreasonable, Saunders notes he focused on the period from the accused’s June bail hearing until his pending trial.
The bail hearing was postponed at least five times before June, due to his lawyer’s involvement defending Karl Lilgert against charges in connection with the March 2006 sinking of the Queen of the North.
Saunders acknowledges the subsequent delay is “unusual,” and said it must be considered in light of the presumption of innocence and the right to a speedy trial.
“However, given the complexity of the issues and the necessity of a 10-day trial here, while I find that the detention… was lengthy, I find that it is not inordinate or unreasonable to the extent that the delay has unreasonably impacted Mr. Sutherland’s rights throughout.”
“The interim detention will continue on the terms presently in effect."