Crown moves along criminal negligence charge in fatal Sauble fire

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To move along the case of a young man charged in the death of a 17-year-old girl in a 2020 Sauble Beach fire, the Crown has obtained a direct indictment for accused Taran Hibma.

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The development means there will be no preliminary hearing, which had been scheduled for later this month. Those hearings are used in serious cases where the defence can scrutinize the Crown’s case and a judge then decides whether there is evidence to proceed to trial.

Hibma was 18 years old when initially was charged with manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death and arson following an Aug. 15, 2020 fire in which Genesis Young died.

During Superior Court of Justice assignment court this week in Owen Sound, assistant Crown attorney Lisa Defoe said the Crown applied for a direct indictment, which the attorney general granted.

The charge facing Hibma now is criminal negligence causing death, his lawyer Ram Shankar said in an interview later.

Defoe said this was Hibma’s first appearance in the Superior Court on this indictment and the Crown was seeking the earliest possible judicial pretrial to enable trial dates to be set at the next assignment court on Sept. 6.

Shankar said he objects to the direct indictment and pretrial before Sept. 6 because the Crown hasn’t disclosed all of its case to him. The vast majority of disclosure has been provided, Defoe said.

She said one reason the Crown sought a direct indictment “was because we’re at 22 months, and given the serious nature of these allegations, it’s important for the public as well as Mr. Hibma to move forward on these matters as quickly as possible.”

Shankar said the Crown said at an earlier appearance that the other charges Hibma faced would be stayed. He said he would confirm the status of them with the Crown before Sept. 6, the date to which Justice Michael T. Doi put the case. He did not require Shankar to arrange a pretrial to be held before then.

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