Judge orders trial against Guy Lafleur to go ahead
A Montreal judge upheld an arrest warrant against Guy Lafleur on Wednesday, giving the court the green light to move ahead with the Hockey Hall of Famer’s obstruction of justice trial.
Judge Claude Parent ruled that a warrant used to bring Lafleur into custody last year was legal but unnecessary and may have violated his charter right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
However, the judge said that should not stop the case from moving forward. The trial has been scheduled for April 16-17. Lawyers for the hockey legend had asked for a stay of proceedings, saying authorities went too far by issuing a high-profile arrest warrant against Lafleur instead of a simple summons to appear in court.
Defence lawyer Jean-Pierre Rancourt said his client is now ready to stand trial.
“He’s disappointed, but he’s been ready since the beginning to face this trial,” Rancourt said outside the court.
Lafleur has pleaded not guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice after prosecutors allege he gave contradictory testimony on the witness stand in the bail hearing for his son, Mark, in 2007.
Obstruction charge stems from son’s assault trial
Mark Lafleur had been in court on more than a dozen charges including sexual assault, uttering death threats and forcible confinement.
Guy Lafleur had told the court that his son was staying at his house, as ordered by the judge. Police later discovered receipts showing the young Lafleur had slept at a hotel several times.
In January 2008, police issued an arrest warrant for Guy Lafleur. The warrant made headlines around the world, with papers proclaiming that Lafleur was a wanted man.
The day after the warrant was issued, Lafleur turned himself in.
In an appearance before the court last November, Lafleur said he was humiliated by the whole process. His lawyer, Louis Belleau, said police and prosecutors violated Lafleur’s rights by issuing the arrest warrant.
Parent told Lafleur that he has other options before him if he disagrees with the way authorities handled his case.
He said Lafleur has the option of pursuing civil action, which Lafleur has already done. He has launched a $3.5-million civil suit against the police and the Crown over the warrant.
If convicted of obstructing justice, Lafleur could face a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
Last week, Lafleur’s 23-year-old son Mark was sentenced to 15 months served in the community after pleading guilty to more than a dozen charges including uttering death threats, forcible confinement and assault.
He was acquitted of two charges of sexual assault.