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Man on trial for holding girl hostage is without a lawyer for 5th time

Defendant wanted to defend himself.
Aaron Gardiner leaving the Battleford Court of Queen's Bench following an appearance in July.

BATTLEFORD – The trial for a man accused of holding a girl hostage at a remote northern cabin didn’t proceed Monday after court heard that he was without a lawyer, again.

Aaron Gardiner, now 44, has gone through five defence lawyers since he was arrested more than two years ago, court heard. This has caused numerous delays in his case. Gardiner fired some lawyers and some withdrew as his counsel.

Gardiner told Justice G. Currie in Battleford Court of King’s Bench Monday that he objected to the adjournment of his trial, saying that he has been in custody for 29 months already, would represent himself and was ready to proceed.

Crown Prosecutor Jennifer Schmidt told the court that Gardiner is currently a serving prisoner after being sentenced on two other trials. She suggested a court-appointed amicus be considered if Gardiner decides to defend himself. An amicus is a lawyer appointed by the court to provide legal services.

“Gardiner’s decision to dismiss his counsel is why we are here today,” Schmidt told the court.

“It never happened, I didn’t dismiss him,” Gardiner told the court before asking, “Amicus, what does that mean?”

Gardiner also told the court that he has an affidavit saying the complainant doesn’t want to testify against him.

Schmidt told the court that it’s not an affidavit and said it’s a transcript of the witness statement. She said the Crown has enough evidence to proceed without the testimony of the one witness. She said three of the four civilian witnesses have been subpoenaed. RCMP witnesses would also appear.

Justice G. Currie told Gardiner that an adjournment was necessary.

“We are in a bit of a box here either way,” said Justice Currie, adding that Gardiner can’t represent himself on Monday because he hasn’t seen disclosure, the Crown’s case against him.

Gardiner replied, “I just don’t want this trial delayed and delayed.”

Justice Currie assured Gardiner that a new trial date for him would be on the top of the list. The matter was adjourned for a pre-trial conference Sept. 23.

Gardiner was arrested in a dramatic take down after the Canadian Armed Forces flew in RCMP and the Saskatchewan RCMP Emergency Response Team (ERT) on April 23, 2020, to a remote cabin across from Île-à-la-Crosse Lake to rescue a girl police say was being held against her will for four days.

The lake was covered in water and slush so the RCMP called in the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP ERT to assist. It only took about two before Canadian Armed Forces CH-146 Griffon helicopters flew the ERT tactical RCMP unit across the lake and landed beside the cabin.

Police rescued the girl who only had minor bruising and she was flown back to her family in Île-à-la-Crosse.

Gardiner allegedly tried to flee from the cabin and resisted arrest. The RCMP deployed a Taser and he was treated in Île-à-la-Crosse for minor injuries.

Police seized firearms and drugs from the cabin. Gardiner was charged with unlawful confinement, assault, overcoming resistance, uttering threats, resisting arrest, possessing a firearm for a dangerous purpose, use of a firearm in commission of an indictable offence, proceeds of crime, and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

The charges against Gardiner haven’t been tested in court.

Click for more from Crime, Cops and Court. 


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