News Canada

Health of key witness in Duffy trial a concern

Corey Larocque, Postmedia Network

Suspended Senator Mike Duffy arrives at the courthouse in Ottawa on April 13, 2015. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Suspended Senator Mike Duffy arrives at the courthouse in Ottawa on April 13, 2015. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Topics

OTTAWA -- As Senator Mike Duffy's trial heads into its fifth week, both the Crown and defence are eager to get key witness and Duffy pal Gerald Donohue on the stand while his health permits.

"He may not be with us. His health concerns are so grave," defence lawyer Donald Bayne said in court Wednesday.

Both legal teams said they'd like to call Donohue Tuesday. It would be the earliest opportunity to call a witness because Monday will be dedicated to a voir dire hearing on the admissibility of a 2010 Senate committee report.

Donohue was hospitalized two weeks ago and was recovering at his Carp home last week, Crown prosecutor Mark Holmes said. Bayne said he was aware Donohue has an ongoing medical condition but didn't want to mention it in open court.

The court has arranged to have him give evidence by video link from home.

Donohue was involved in two companies, Maple Ridge Media and Ottawa ICF, that received $65,000 in research contracts from Duffy between 2009 and 2012. But the companies didn't do any genuine research, the Crown alleges. Instead, the companies wrote a lot of cheques to cover personal expenses for Duffy -- expenses the Crown alleges wouldn't have been eligible to be reimbursed by the Senate otherwise.

Donohue's son Matthew testified earlier in the trial. But the younger Donohue said he and his mother Gail owned the two companies based on a 40-60 split, respectively. Matthew Donohue testified his father wasn't an owner of the companies and didn't have any role in them. Then, the Crown showed him cheques signed by Gerald Donohue, including some paid to people Duffy had done business with as a senator.

Duffy has been on trial in an Ottawa courtroom since April 7. He faces 31 fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges. The Crown alleges he fraudulently billed the Senate for living expenses, travel expenses, steered government contracts to Donohue's companies and took a bribe to repay the expenses when they became public.

Duffy, a 68-year-old former journalist, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The trial took a two-day break at the end of this week to give lawyers time to prepare for Monday's voir dire. A voir dire is a hearing within a trial to determine the admissibility of a piece of evidence.

In this case, Duffy's lawyer wants to include a report on an audit a Senate committee requested on its policies for living and travel expenses. The Crown says it should not be admitted because it's only an opinion.

corey.larocque@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @Corey_Larocque


Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions


Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »