Man accused of holding girl captive at remote cabin chooses trial by judge and jury

A man accused of holding a girl against her will at a remote northern Saskatchewan cabin wants to be tried in Court of Queen’s Bench by judge and jury.

Defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle told the Meadow Lake Provincial Court on March 1 that he is in discussions with the Crown about the possibility of running an abbreviated preliminary hearing for Aaron Gardiner. Prosecutor Andrew Clements had indicated that the Crown may go by way of direct indictment. Pfefferle asked the court for a one-week adjournment to see if the defence and Crown can reach an agreement for an abbreviated preliminary hearing. Clements didn’t object.

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Judge Janet McIvor adjourned the matter until March 8.

Canada’s Criminal Code allows for a case to be sent directly to trial without a preliminary hearing through a direct indictment. Direct Indictment is only used in serious crimes and when it’s in the public interest.

Gardiner, 42, appeared in Meadow Lake Provincial Court by phone from the Regina Correctional Centre. He has been in custody since his arrest in April 2020.

Gardiner allegedly held a girl captive for four days at a remote cabin across from Île-à-la-Crosse Lake. A specialized RCMP tactical unit was flown to the isolated cabin by two military CH-146 Griffon helicopters to rescue her and arrest Gardiner. He was charged with unlawful confinement, assault, overcoming resistance, uttering threats, resisting arrest, possessing a firearm for a dangerous purpose, use of a firearm in commission of an indictable offence, proceeds of crime, and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Three months after his arrest, police added more charges after more alleged victims came forward.

There have been numerous adjournments and delays in the case against Gardiner because he has gone through about five lawyers. Gardiner has either fired the lawyers or they have withdrawn from representing him.

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