Closing arguments in trial of Winnipeg police officer accused of fraud, obstruction of justice
Lawyers presented their closing arguments in the trial of a long-time Winnipeg police officer accused of allegedly altering information in a police database to get out of a $259 speeding ticket.
Sean Cassidy is facing charges of unauthorized use of a computer, fraud and obstruction of justice. He has pleaded not guilty.
In Manitoba's provincial court Wednesday, both the Crown and Cassidy's defence lawyers presented their closing arguments to Provincial Judge Cindy Sholdice.
Court heard previously that Cassidy—the former supervisor of the Winnipeg police photo radar unit—was flashed by a photo radar while driving members of his unit for a team breakfast and to check a problem intersection in his personal vehicle on Oct. 1, 2019.
Cassidy testified later that day he was tasked with adding four licence plates to the special plates list—a list of police vehicles exempt from photo radar and red light tickets.
He testified when he tried adding the plates into the system, one wouldn't show up—so he entered his own personal licence plate as an integrity test to see if it would show up in the database. He said he did this again later that day, but testified he voided his plates from the list after adding them into the database.
"He entered his plates and he admits that. That is not contested … but it was not with the intention to stop his ticket from issuing to him," Defence Counsel Lisa LaBossiere argued.
"There was no intent to zap the ticket, to stop the ticket from issuing. And if there isn't any intent to do that, then it certainly could not be obstructing justice."
She pointed to Cassidy's testimony that he did not receive formal training on how to use the special plates list, and would figure out problems through trial and error.
"He indicated that he was doing what he had always done, which was really trial and error, he was trying to trouble shoot what the problem is," LaBossiere said.
Crown Prosecutor Brett Rach, however, argued Cassidy knew what he was doing.
"The Crown suggests that his explanation is unbelievable and it's incredible," he said.
"Patrol Sgt. Cassidy was aware how the covert plate list works, and what to do in order to have plates entered on there. The only issue really for your honour to consider is whether or not you believe his stated intentions."
Rach questioned why Cassidy did not mention the issues he was facing with the databases.
"It would be reasonable to tell people that he had done this, and the inference to draw is that him not telling this is that he was trying to hide it," Rach argued.
LaBossiere called on the court to accept Cassidy's evidence, which she said should at least leave the court with a reasonable doubt.
"He might have been able to do something better, but that doesn't mean that what he did was fraud," she said.
Cassidy's lawyers have called on the court to acquit him of the charges.
Judge Cindy Sholdice has reserved her decision.