'I feel cheated': Mother says she’s not allowed in courtroom for preliminary hearing in son’s death
SASKATOON -- In March 2020, five people were charged in connection to the death of Allan Douglas Garrioch.
The preliminary hearings have begun more than a year later, but Garrioch’s mother Shannon Glasier says she hasn’t been allowed inside of the courtroom at Saskatoon Provincial Court because of capacity limits due to COVID-19.
“I've been waiting over a year for this, and to be told I'm not allowed in to know why my son was murdered, this is devastating,” she said.
“I would like to know what is being said. I've waited to know why he was taken, what's going on.”
The five people charged in Garrioch’s death are Brettin Andrew Veilleux-Pelletier, Steven Veilleux, Joshua Dominic Canevaro, and Jodie Lynn Veilleux.
Glasier’s daughter Shantelle Garrioch says courtroom #4, where the hearings are taking place, has a capacity of nine people. When one of the accused was brought in with a police escort and exceeded the capacity, she said she was told to leave.
In an email, Saskatchewan courts communications officer Dawn Blaus said as of Mar. 29, 2021, courts in Saskatchewan continued in-person hearings where they can proceed in compliance with the public health guidelines.
“Access to provincial courthouses in Saskatchewan continues to be restricted to only those persons necessary to the proceedings before the court,” the email said. “However, depending on the number of people wanting to access a courthouse, entry may be restricted or delayed to ensure public health guidelines can be met.”
Saskatoon criminal defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle said judges have the ability to dictate what can and should happen in their courtrooms.
“We've tried our best as a system to try to accommodate the trials and try to continue the wheels of justice moving, but at the same time, we have had to comply with the public health orders as best we can and listen to the experts,” he said.
Pfefferle said he’s been involved in cases where people have been asked to leave because of capacity issues, and forced to listen by telephone — which he admits isn’t ideal.
“Most of our society is living in situations that are far from ideal and we're not immune from that as a justice system,” he said. “I have no doubt that the participants here did have consideration of how to make this proceed, how to prevent delays, but also try to accommodate as many people, and it's unfortunate that we're not able to accommodate everybody.”
“Hopefully this is something that we can see in the rearview mirror soon, but also learn from and say as a system, ‘How do we accommodate people that want to be present?’”
Glasier said they were able to listen to the hearing on a phone connection, but she wasn’t able to hear anything because of mask wearing and plexiglass in the courtroom.
“I just feel cheated,” she said. “I feel cheated after waiting over a year to find all of this out and what's going on and follow along with what is going on, and to be the one that's kicked out.”
“I'm angry,” said Garrioch, adding that she’d like to see the accused.
“I'd like to look them in the eyes, honestly. I would like them to see my pain and feel my pain. That's the least that they deserve.”