Jury begins deliberating tomorrow (July 8) for accused protesters Roy Sasano, Nick Schafer and Amy Soranno in relation to the April 28, 2019 protest at Abbotsford’s Excelsior Hog Farm.
The Crown and defence made their closing arguments on Thursday (July 7) for the now-five charges of break-and-enter and mischief. The trial had originally been scheduled to run for four weeks.
Crown counsel Scott Quendack stated that video evidence in Soranno’s phone showed protesters trying to enter a window or a door to gain access to the barn. He also pointed to evidence from the phone stating that they intend to “lockdown the farm” as a way of pointing out the Crown’s view that this was more than a simple protest.
Quendack added they knew they were not allowed to be in the barn and they were going to stay there until they met their objective, which was the media tour.
Sasano’s lawyer Joe Killoran spoke about the lack of evidence linking his client to the scene. He said his client was primarily outside the barn with other protesters and only entered the barn when was he walked into the facility by police.
He said a lack of evidence is why Sasano is now only facing one charge and even with that charge no one knows exactly what he did because there isn’t any proof.
Schafer’s lawyer Bibhas Vaze admitted that his client is likely guilty of trespassing, but that is not what the jury is determining in this trial. Schafer’s five counts were lowered to two and he said his client’s main goal was information gathering. The only demand that Schafer and the protesters had was media access and they had no desire to interrupt or disrupt operation at the farm.
Vaze also urged the jury to reflect on the fact that protest is legal and that what occurred at Excelsior was reasonable, respectful and non-criminal. The information obtained was also useful for the public to see and there was no damage to any property and it wasn’t a day-long or several-day-long protest.
Soranno’s lawyer Leo Salloum stated he wanted to use the evidence from his client’s phone and other CCTV footage because it showed that protesters were guilty of trespassing, but did nothing criminal. He also questioned if the protest disrupted work as the Binnendyk’s stated because all tasks that day were able to be completed.
He also urged the jury to recognize that the Binnendyk’s were emotional on the stand and that a jury should not be emotional when making decisions. He said the break-and-enter does not apply because everyone knew that they were there and that there is a reasonable doubt that any mischief occurred.
Jury begins deliberating at 1 p.m. tomorrow.