Tragedy of Lac-Mégantic: the trial continues

Photo: Ryan Remiorz, The canadian Press
The trial of Tom Harding, Jean Demaître and Richard Labrie

The lawyer of the head of the train that derailed in the centre of Lac-Mégantic, killing 47 people in July 2013, argued Monday that the actions taken by Thomas Harding on the eve of the tragedy were not perfect, but they were nevertheless reasonable.


In its final argument, at the courthouse of Sherbrooke, Charles Shearson admitted that Mr. Harding had not complied with all the rules laid down when he parked the convoy tanker for the night in Nantes, about fifteen kilometers of Lac-Megantic.


The lawyer has argued, however, that the rail company Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) had not informed Mr. Harding, of the risks inherent in this procedure. To Me, Shearson argues, therefore, that if Mr Harding was rejected indeed of the rules, he has not committed a criminal act that evening.


The Crown argued at trial that Mr. Harding had not applied the required number of brakes on the convoy, which was parked on a slight slope this evening, and that the conductor had not properly tested the brake system before leaving for the night.


The convoy filled with crude oil is then slowly shaken and then picked up speed and crashed before derailing and exploding in the heart of Lac-Megantic. The tragedy has made 47 people in this small town in the eastern Townships ; and the fire, which raged for several days, devastated part of the city centre.


The train conductor Thomas Harding, the controller of railway Richard Labrie, and the director of operations for MMA, Jean Demaître, all three have pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal negligence causing death.


The Crown presented its final arguments last week, just as the lawyers of MESSRS. Labrie and Demaître. It was the turn of the lawyer for Mr. Harding, Monday, to address the jury. The judge Gaetan Dumas, of the superior Court, should then transmit his instructions to the jurors.