POLITICS

Quebec's 2012 election shooting accused wants bail, claims no memory of event

11/28/2014 12:51 EST | Updated 01/28/2015 05:59 EST
MONTREAL - The suspect in Quebec's 2012 election shooting says he has no memory of the events surrounding the slaying of a stagehand outside a Parti Quebecois victory celebration.

Testifying at his own bail hearing Friday, Richard Henry Bain choked back tears as he claimed having overdosed on medication around the time of the events.

"I've got no memory of that tragedy — nothing," Bain said during a legally jarring day in court as he acted as his own lawyer. "I'm saying for that tragedy, I was on medication. My doctor knows and I overdosed on it."

He spoke freely even as Justice Guy Cournoyer cautioned him to limit his comments on the events that led him to being charged with first-degree murder and 15 other charges.

The attack occurred on the night of Sept. 4, 2012, outside the Metropolis club, where then-PQ leader Pauline Marois was toasting her party's election win.

Bain is attempting to secure bail, claiming he can't properly prepare for his murder trial while detained. After failing to find counsel, Bain will defend himself at the trial, which is scheduled to start on Jan. 19, 2015.

Typically, such bail applications are covered by a publication ban but Bain refused one.

The accused claimed he was bipolar and blamed medication he was taking for his memory lapse.

Bain said he only learned of the magnitude of the dramatic events of that night after meeting with police.

"It (the interrogation) was only 33 hours after the events,"he told the court. "I said 'excuse me? There's a poor man dead, another man wounded.'"

Lighting technician Denis Blanchette was fatally shot and colleague David Courage was wounded as they stood near a doorway to the Metropolis.

Sgt. Patrick Berthelot, the lead investigator in the case, testified that Bain's semi-automatic rifle jammed after he fired a single shot that killed Blanchette and seriously injured Courage.

While the weapon was legally registered — as were all of the weapons he owned — it was fitted with an illegally modified magazine that could hold up to 30 bullets instead of the usual five, the investigator said. An electric drill seized from Bain's home was allegedly used to make the modification.

It wasn't the only time Bain allegedly tried to fire a weapon that night.

Berthelot said Bain had a revolver that jammed when he allegedly tried to fire at a police officer who had identified himself and was trying to stop him.

The court also heard that Bain set fire to a gasoline canister in the back of the Metropolis and led police on a short foot chase before being tackled and arrested.

Berthelot said Blanchette and Courage were among 15 stagehands milling about, waiting for the PQ party to wrap up so they could take down the set.

In addition to the rifle and revolver Bain was carrying, Berthelot said police found a cache of weapons and ammunition in his vehicle and determined he was listening to live radio coverage of the election before his alleged crimes.

Berthelot said evidence gathered suggests Bain had inquired about the location of the club and was spotted by witnesses and on surveillance video circling the neighbourhood in the hours before the incident.

Later, he was spotted on security footage parked illegally in a lot near the club.

Berthelot said some of the night's events were caught on surveillance video, while the aftermath was recorded by a TV crew. It was played in court on Friday and Bain could be heard shouting "the English are rising up!" as he was put into a squad car.

The court heard a number of rambling political statements made to various local media following his arrest. It also heard an audio clip posted to his own Facebook page where Bain made it clear his intention was to stop Marois from delivering her speech.

Bain suggested his bail bond would be paid with personal items and his chalet northwest of Montreal.

He also indicated he'd live in a halfway house.

When Cournoyer asked about living with family, he quietly said he didn't wish to. Then he began to cry.

"They're devastated," he said, his voice trembling. "It's a tragedy, my lord, so many people, so many victims, so much sorrow and grief."

The Crown opposes his release, saying it would undermine the public's confidence in the justice system and pose a risk to public safety given Bain hasn't offered a proper supervision plan.

Prosecutor Matthew Ferguson said the fact Bain hasn't been successful in finding a lawyer and has chosen to represent himself shouldn't be enough to warrant his release.

"He can't use it as an arm to seek bail," Ferguson said.

Cournoyer says he will give his bail ruling Dec. 19.

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