Skip to main content

New Brunswick prosecutors have dropped their case against two correctional officers in the death of an inmate who was pepper-sprayed inside Dorchester Penitentiary.

The guards – Alvida Ross and Mathieu Bourgoin – had faced manslaughter and criminal negligence charges following the 2015 death of Matthew Hines of Cape Breton.

A provincial court decided in April that the two guards would not stand trial after a preliminary hearing.

Members of Hines’ family disputed a claim from the guards’ union that decision exonerated the officers, and they suggested in a statement it should be appealed: “Errors in law are always reviewable by a higher court.”

However, the province’s prosecution service issued a statement Wednesday saying it will not seek a judicial review from the Court of Queen’s Bench, and has chosen not to have the case proceed directly to trial via direct indictment.

The statement said the only potential reasons for a judicial review would be if the provincial court judge had “exceeded his or her jurisdiction,” and that didn’t occur in this case.

The prosecutors said a direct indictment wasn’t an option because there isn’t a reasonable prospect of conviction.

The news release says there is a viable legal defence provided to the guards in Section 25 of the Criminal Code, which broadens their right to use force beyond those held by members of the public.

It notes that the Criminal Code says guards must be acting within the scope of their duties, act “reasonably” and not use “more force than is necessary.”

“The existence of a viable defence must be factored into the prosecutorial test of a reasonable prospect of conviction,” says the prosecutors’ release.

“While prosecution services initially screened the charges against Ross and Bourgoin and initiated a prosecution, this initial decision is always subject to reconsideration as a prosecution proceeds and as evidence is tested at the preliminary hearing stage.”

Hines was serving a five-year sentence for crimes including robbery when he died on May 26, 2015.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe