The jury begins to deliberate in the trial of Lac-Mégantic

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Archives The Duty
The tragedy train in Lac-Mégantic killing 47 people in July 2013.

Jurors will begin deliberating Thursday in the trial of three men accused of criminal negligence in relation to the tragedy train in Lac-Mégantic, killing 47 people in July 2013.


The judge Gaetan Dumas gave Wednesday all during the day its instructions to the jury, warning them that they must make a verdict without sympathy or prejudice against the accused, and without taking into account the public opinion.


The jurors will have to decide on the guilt of the three accused, the train conductor Thomas Harding, the controller of railway Richard Labrie, and the director of operations, the Montreal Maine Atlantic (MMA) in Quebec, Jean Demaître.


They all three have pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal negligence causing death.


The possible verdicts are the following : the three men can be found guilty or not guilty of criminal negligence causing death. In the case of Thomas Harding, two other verdicts can be pronounced : dangerous operation of rail equipment causing death and dangerous operation of rail equipment. This is offences that are included in that of criminal negligence.


As this is criminal negligence, the Crown only has to prove that their behavior — their actions or omissions — was a marked difference and significant with respect to that of a reasonable person in the same position and in the same circumstances.


In short, to be convicted, the accused must have failed to do something that they had a duty to perform — and by that, have shown a reckless dissolute or reckless with respect to the lives of others, like the people of Lac-Mégantic. It is also necessary that their behaviour has caused the death of 47 people, explained the judge Dumas.


Not need that their actions or omissions were the sole cause of death, said the judge. But this ” must be at least a contributing factor “.


Basically, it is alleged that the train conductor Thomas Harding, of not having applied enough hand brakes and have not been tested before leaving the train unattended for the night, at the top of a slope.


About Richard Labrie and Jean Demaître, he is accused of not having asked any questions to ensure that the train was properly secured and locked after having been informed that a fire had triggered the day before the drama in the lead locomotive, and that the fire department had turned off the engine, disabling the air brakes.


The two men have in particular argued that they were entitled to rely on Mr Harding, and thinking that he had done his job as it should be.