WorkSafe Director of Investigations On the Stand
Prince George, B.C. – The inquest into the deaths of Lakeland Mills employees Glenn Roche and Allan Little resumed this morning, with Chief Coroner Lisa LaPointe saying she fully expects to deliver her charge to the Jury this Thursday.
The inquest had already heard from 47 witnesses before it took a break in late March. Seven more witnesses, many of them from WorkSafeBC , are scheduled to testify before the jury will retire to make its deliberations.
This morning, Jeff Dolan, the Director of Investigations for WorkSafe, testified although requested to, he did not agree to meet with Lakeland’s lawyer, Gavin Marshall to share the finds of the investigation by CASE Forensics, who had been hired by Lakeland, saying such a meeting would not have been appropriate. He said WorkSafe was days away from passing its own report to its CEO for a decision on whether the case should be forwarded to Crown for consideration for possible charges. Dolan said he sent an email to Lakeland’s lawyer reminding him the “You are already required by law to provide that information to us, and everything we know, you know” as WorkSafe had been making their findings public. He said “for us to sit down with an employer who could be facing possible charges, would not have been appropriate.”
When asked if the information in the CASE Forensics report was presented to WorkSafe’s CEO, Dolan said “I don’t recall if it was.”
The lawyers for the various agencies involved in the investigation into the Lakeland explosion, balked when the coroner’s Counsel asked why it took so long for the investigation documents to be handed over to Crown. The decision to send the case to Crown was made November 21st 2012, but Crown had not received all the material until mid February of 2014, just weeks before the statute of limitations would have been reached ( two year limit). Dolan explained Crown’s requirement for disclosure far exceeded what would have been necessary for WorkSafe’s administrative penalties. He said there were “tens of thousands of pages” that had to be sent to Crown.
Yet with all those tens of thousands of pages, Crown had determined there were “areas of relevant evidence that had been left unexplained.”