Lich Trial Highlights: October 12, 2023

On Day 15 of the Lich & Barber trial, the prosecution began calling civilian witnesses, starting with Sarah Gawman. Gawman lived in a high-rise condo and worked part-time during the time of the protest. She mentioned feeling anxious about the “constant noises” she heard, such as drums, fireworks, and honking, which she said disrupted her “very analytical” work. She further testified that she faced challenges shopping, attending a medical appointment, and visiting family.

Interestingly, the crown did not inquire about Gawman's place of employment or job title in their examination in chief.

During her cross-examination, Gawman admitted she couldn't identify individuals who had allegedly yelled at her during the protest. She also admitted that she was aware of a class-action lawsuit against the convoy protesters and confirmed her active participation. Finally, she agreed that she had never had any contact with Tamara Lich.

The next witness, Vivian Leir, the church administrator at the Presbyterian Church on Kent Street, described how the protest had affected her church. She testified that she witnessed her church being surrounded by trucks, which she said led to overwhelming noise and the strong smell of diesel fumes. She stated that she witnessed three protesters urinate on the church property. She said she was upset that the trucks were not ticketed for parking on the road, since members of her congregation had been ticketed for minor stops in front of the church. Leir said that she had liaised with the police multiple times but claimed it was only for the church minister's transportation arrangements.

Leir recounted incidents of being sworn at during the protest and observed gridlock around the church. She stated that due to the presence of the trucks, some bell choir practices and four or five committee meetings were cancelled, or conducted via Zoom, and the congregation's numbers for Sunday service dwindled. Leir stated that the bank was closed during this time, and deliveries to the church could not be accepted due to the protest's impact on the church's surroundings.

Leir described observing a large number of unmasked people during the protest, even though mask requirements were in place at the time. She mentioned that she could hear honking horns and the idling of trucks through the church walls. When asked to describe the sound of idling trucks, she likened it to a "low rumble."

Ms. Younes, a lawyer from Chris Barber's defence team, began the cross-examination. She pointed out that Leir referred to the protest as an "occupation," to which Leir agreed. Younes asked if this term implied an invading army occupying a foreign country, per the definition of international occupation, to which Leir stated that her definition of “occupation” might have been based on her feelings. Leir also admitted that the honking and loud music during the protest were not constant, contrary to her earlier statement.

Younes then inquired about Leir's involvement with Champ and Associates, the law firm handling the civil suit against the convoy. Leir stated that she contacted Champ to explore joining the civil suit.

Younes presented videos dated February 5, 2022, and February 10, 2022, depicting scenes on Wellington Street during the protest. These videos showed an open lane with no honking, loud music, or shouting, and in one of the videos, music could be heard coming from a truck but at a low volume. Leir agreed that these videos depicted a quieter scene than what she had described earlier, including the so-called "Led Zeppelin" truck.

Granger, from Tamara Lich's defence team, then continued the cross-examination. Leir acknowledged that she couldn't identify any of the individuals urinating on church property but stated that they were all male. She also confirmed that she walked alone, without an escort, in Ottawa during the protest. Finally, she admitted that she had never met or communicated with Ms. Lich.

The next witness, Stephane Bellfoy, testified that he was employed full-time in Ottawa at “Blackburn Hamlet” during the protest. He explained that the protest had significantly increased his commute time to work, taking up to an hour and a half on his slowest commute day. Bellfoy detailed how the protest had affected his children's activities, such as hockey practices and family visits.

He described hearing various noises during the protest, including horns, loud shouting, and fireworks, which he said he heard at all hours. Bellfoy also mentioned smelling fuel fumes and, initially, "illegal drugs," specifically marijuana, though it was clarified by Perkins-McVey that marijuana is not an illegal drug. Due to interpretation issues, the crown requested an adjournment to the following day to have a second interpreter present.

Disclaimer: Please remember this update is given for information purposes only. It is not legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should consult a lawyer for specific advice.

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