Shores Of Erie Wine Festival Guilty Of Liquor Act Charges

The Shores of Erie International Wine Festival has been found guilty of Liquor Licence Act charges in provincial offences court.

Justice of the Peace Michael Hurst made the finding based on there not being adequate oversight of alcohol distribution in food vendor booths.

He called it the most difficult decision in his judicial career because it involves the death of 18-year-old Emily Bernauer.

On September 6, 2014 Bernauer, who was just a few short days from her 19th birthday, died in a crash and was found to have been intoxicated.

Defence Attorney Pat Ducharme says he has a mixed reaction to the ruling.

"In some respects the finding of the justice of the peace was such that he found that the festival people had a good system in place that amounted to due diligence," says Ducharme.  "But oddly enough they were not duly diligent enough about checking on the food booths.  But of course he's referring to only one food booth."

Ducharme says the ruling points a clear finger, but not necessarily at the festival.

"I think this was very much a finding in essence that one particular booth, the Sobeys food booth, served alcohol to its own employee and obviously knew that employee's age because they get their ages when they hire them," says Ducharme.

He says it's unlikely there will be an appeal.

"All of these people are volunteers, as his worship properly pointed out.  They gave hundreds and hundreds of hours of their time. Every bit of money that was raised was given back to the community," says Ducharme.  "Whether or not they ever want to expend money to appeal a decision like this I have no idea."

Assistant Crown Scott Kerwin admits it has been a difficult case, but did not want to comment until after sentencing.

Bernauer family members who were in the court did not want to comment either.

The matter has been set over to September 25th for a date to be chosen for sentencing.

The sentence could be a fine of up to $500,000 but no jail time.