POLITICS

Jury sees damaged boat at murder trial of lobster fisherman in Cape Breton

11/18/2014 10:14 EST | Updated 01/18/2015 05:59 EST
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. - The damaged boat that Phillip Boudreau was on before he disappeared in a Cape Breton harbour was shown to the jury on Tuesday at the second-degree murder trial of a man who has pleaded not guilty in his slaying.

Jurors crowded around the four-metre vessel in the basement of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., as an RCMP civilian firearms expert pointed to four gashes in different areas of the boat that he testified were bullet holes.

Joseph Prendergast, who said he examined the boat two days after Boudreau's disappearance on June 1, 2013, told the trial of Joseph James Landry that he found a bullet under a loose piece of fibreglass at the stern, or rear, of the weathered boat.

At one point, Prendergast lifted up a rectangular piece of loose fibreglass from the boat and brought it near the stern. He laid it on the floor and told the jury he found the bullet underneath it during his examination.

"The bullet was located in this general area ... just below this piece of fibreglass," he said, pointing to an area in between two rear seats.

Prendergast testified about the trajectory of the bullets and pointed to where he said they would have entered and exited the boat at various points of its stern and starboard and port, or right and left sides.

Jurors bent down next to the red and white vessel and jotted down notes as Prendergast testified. Judge Joseph Kennedy later told the jury they would be able to revisit the boat if they wanted, as it has been entered as evidence in the case.

A number of cracks, bends and gashes were visible on the boat, including a large rectangular hole on its starboard side.

Landry, 67, sat emotionless during the proceedings Tuesday, often crossing his arms as he listened to testimony.

On Monday, Prendergast told the court that Boudreau's boat was shot at from different angles, based on his analysis of bullet holes, residue and fibres.

Const. Tom McLeod, incident commander for the RCMP dive team that was tasked with finding the 43-year-old Boudreau, also told the trial Monday that his team found the motor from Boudreau's boat on June 2, 2013, the day after he vanished.

McLeod said based on the location of the motor and a number of other factors including wind and current speeds, the team searched an area of Mackerel Cove and they expected to find a body. But Boudreau's body has never been found.

The Crown has argued that Landry and two other lobster fishermen were aboard a vessel called the Twin Maggies that rammed Boudreau's boat three times at the mouth of Petit de Grat harbour on June 1, 2013.

Prosecutor Steve Drake has said Landry fired four shots at Boudreau, one of which hit him in the leg.

Drake has said that Boudreau's boat overturned and Landry hooked him using a fishing gaff, dragging him out to sea before the three-man fishing crew tied an anchor to Boudreau's neck and upper arms. Boudreau was dropped in an area with a water depth of 22 metres, Drake has told the court.

Kennedy told the jury they will hear testimony Monday from Craig Landry, one of the crew members who was aboard the Twin Maggies. He was initially charged with second-degree murder but that was withdrawn and he now faces a charge of accessory after the fact, the jury has heard.

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