'No longer in the public interest:' Crown officially drops peace bond against former CAO Samra

By Dominic Abassi
March 18, 2019 - 5:41pm Updated: March 20, 2019 - 10:58am

A peace bond application against the City's former CAO is expected to be dropped this week.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

UPDATE: As expected, a special prosecutor dropped a peace bond application against former Nanaimo CAO Tracy Samra.

In a brief submission to provincinal court in Nanaimo Wednesday morning, Michael Klein said the matter was no longer in the public interest, noting 13-months passed since the alleged incident.

Klein declined an interview request following the short hearing.

Samra and her legal counsel did not attend.

 

EARLIER (March 18):

NANAIMO — The details of an allegedly frantic scene inside City Hall, resulting in the arrest of Nanaimo's former chief administrative officer, will no longer be aired in provincial court this week.

NanaimoNewsNOW learned Michael Klein, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, will not proceed with a peace bond application against Tracy Samra. On Monday, two days before Samra's long-anticipated hearing was slated to begin, Klein informed several people listed on the peace bond he would drop the application.

Sheila Gurrie, Nanaimo's city clerk, said Klein told her his decision was based on a small likelihood of success in court because 13 months elapsed since the alleged incident and Samra kept the peace without contacting any of the people she allegedly threatened. Gurrie said Klein also noted Samra no longer living or working on Vancouver Island were mitigating factors.

"I was disappointed," Gurrie told NanaimoNewsNOW. "Not that I didn't have to go testify on Wednesday because I wasn't at all looking forward to that whole process. But that my side of the events would have at least been on the record and I would have had the opportunity to speak about it."

The three-day hearing was finally scheduled for March 20, nearly one-year to the day since the Crown applied for the bond. Samra's legal counsel initiated multiple delays in the proceedings, including the last minute cancellation of a hearing in October 2018 because she changed lawyers. The hearing was necessary because Samra did not accept the bond, leaving the burden on the Crown to prove it was necessary.

Samra was arrested for allegedly uttering threats against several people during an incident in City Hall on Jan. 31, 2018. The Crown appointed Klein to oversee the matter and he eventually deemed a peace bond was warranted because nine people, including the mayor, former councillors and City staff, had reason to fear for their safety.

The former CAO has not publicly denied the allegations, nor have they been heard or proven in court. A peace bond would not have resulted in a criminal record.

This week's hearing would have allowed Gurrie, who witnessed the alleged incident, and several others to share their side of the story publicly for the first time.

"I'm just upset with all the delays over the last year that it's gotten to this point where now it's been 13 months so that opportunity to share my story seems to have slipped away," Gurrie said. "It was an emotional roller coaster and unfair I felt."

She said preparing to testify "brought back a lot of not very pleasant memories and it's been a hard time. Having to go through and relive the events that happened to me and around me, it was very difficult."

Gurrie said she understands Klein's explanation, but the conclusion only provides a small measure of closure.

"It makes sense in the aspects of the law but it doesn't feel like justice was served or there's been appropriate accountability, so that doesn't sit well," Gurrie said.

Former mayor Bill McKay confirmed he received the same call from Klein Monday morning, but declined further comment.

Samra's counsel, high-profile defence attorney Glen Orris, did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Klein.

The BC Prosecution Service said in an email the matter remains before the courts, so no comment would be made.

"The matter will be spoken to on the next scheduled appearance date which is March 20, 2018," the email said.

While Wednesday's hearing date remains on the court registry, the status of the following two days was changed to cancelled Monday.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if the BC Human Rights Tribunal will hear the complaint Samra filed against the City in November of last year. The City said it filed a response in January denying her claims and providing justification for her dismissal.

 

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On Twitter: @domabassi

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