N.S. trial set to begin for six of 15 charged in vicious assault of Halifax inmate

The Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility yard is seen in Dartmouth on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

A trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday at a Halifax convention centre for six of the 15 inmates accused of participating in a vicious assault of another prisoner at a Nova Scotia jail.

The victim sustained life-threatening injuries in the Dec. 2, 2019 attack at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth.

The union that represents correctional officers at the jail has alleged a large group of inmates formed a wall to block guards from reaching the victim.

Jason MacLean, president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, said in an interview Tuesday the alleged assault in the jail known as Burnside left corrections officers shaken and fearing for their safety.

"It's an important trial because, historically, if there was any effort of inmates to act out, people got very little in the way of a penalty," MacLean said.

"It appears this time, it's taken very, very seriously ....There's quite a few people testifying, and it's important to the morale of the facility."

MacLean, who worked in corrections for about 20 years, said the union is eager for all the facts to emerge. "If there would be a time to pay attention to what happens in our facility, people should pay attention to this trial and the story of what happened that day," he said.

The first defendants facing trial are Colin Ladelpha, Kirk Carridice, Jacob Lilly, Wesley Hardiman, Omar McIntosh and Matthew Lambert.

They are facing charges of conspiring to commit murder, attempted murder, unlawful confinement, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and obstructing a peace officer.

Lilly also faces a charge of assaulting a guard in the trial before Justice Jamie Campbell of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Court documents say the victim in the case was another inmate, Stephen Francis Anderson, who the corrections service indicated recovered from his injuries.

Rick Woodburn, one of the two prosecutors for the trial, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday the trials have been broken into separate hearings to reduce the number of people in the room and reduce risks of COVID-19 exposure.

He said the courtroom at the Nova Centre in downtown Halifax has been purpose-built for the process, as the accused each have their own lawyer and there is also space created for the public to observe with social distancing between seating.

He said the trial before a judge alone will begin Wednesday with the prosecution calling witnesses.

Eight other inmates are facing the same charges in a trial set for later this fall.

Woodburn said a 15th inmate, Sophon Sek, is facing the same charges but will have a separate trial.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2021.

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