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UPDATED: Charges Against Michael Bryant Have Been Dropped

Michael Bryant, wife Susan Abramovitch (left) and lawyer Marie Henin arrive at court on May 25, 2010.

Michael Bryant, as Minister of Economic Development, leaves a Queen's Park press conference in February, 2009.

UPDATE #2: Excellent write-up by the Toronto Star with all the facts and reasons for the dropping of the charges:

Peck said four of the previous incidents happened during the month of Sheppard’s death, and showed “an escalating cycle of aggressiveness toward motorists.” All of the motorists who came forward were interviewed extensively, he said, and in one case surveillance photos captured the altercation.

Peck said he was outlining the incidents because they had “significant legal relevance” and not in any way to “demonize” Sheppard or suggest he deserved what happened.

Allan Sheppard, the dead man’s adoptive father, said after that if he had been presented with the same evidence he wouldn’t have insisted on a trial. “I’m content with the result as it came,” he said on the steps outside Old City Hall.

He was asked if justice was done. “I don’t know what justice is in this circumstance. I’m not happy with the result. I’m not sure what would have made me happy.”

He said that he genuinely believes that the people who made the decision to withdraw the charges listened to him. “They talked to me with great respect and they reached a decision and I’ll accept it.”

Breaking News here… reports are that the criminal negligence causing death charges against former Attorney General Michael Bryant have been dropped:

All criminal charges have been withdrawn against former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant.  Special prosecutor Richard Peck made the surprise announcement in a Toronto courtroom Tuesday morning.

UPDATE: Here is most of the text outlining why the charges have been dropped, from the Toronto Star:

As attorney general, Bryant was once in charge of appointing Ontario judges and prosecutors. To avoid any potential conflict of interest, Vancouver lawyer Richard Peck had been brought in to prosecute the case.

Peck said given the high public interest in the case he would give a detailed outline of the case.

If the prosecution determines there is no reasonable prospect of conviction then the charge must be withdrawn, Peck told the judge in front of a courtroom packed with reporters.

“This case falls short of that standard and I’ll explain why,” the lawyer said.

He added the decision was his “mine and mine alone” and no one from Attorney General’s office had any input into the decision-making process.

Bryant, wearing a blue suit and striped purple tie, sat stoned-faced with his wife as Peck addressed the court.

Peck told court Sheppard’s history of altercations with motorists was relevant in the case.

He outlined six other incidents that came to light after Sheppard’s photograph was published and broadcast, including one in which an elderly woman described Sheppard as a “mad man.”

Sheppard’s blood alcohol level was measured after his death at 1.83, or more than twice the legal limit for driving.

Peck said four of the previous incidents happened during August 2009. They showed “an escalating cycle of aggressiveness toward motorists,” he said, and corroborate evidence given by Bryant and Abramovitch.

All of the motorists who came forward were interviewed extensively and, in one case, surveillance photos captured the altercation.

Peck said the reason he was outlining the incidents was because they had “significant legal relevance” and not in any way to “demonize” Sheppard or suggest he deserved what happened.

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If you know more details, leave them in the comments.   We’ll update this post as needed.

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