(CMR) Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush (65) appeared in court this morning to plead guilty to two common assault and disorderly conduct charges against him. Despite this, the Crown was adamant that they would not be accepting the basis of the plea without a trial unless Bush accepted the facts of the Crown's case.
The crown was not prepared to accept a plea to limited charges in circumstances where the crown's case is not accepted.
Bush was to start his trial Monday, December 7.
He pleaded guilty to count two and count three; which are the common assault offenses and guilty to count four which is disorderly conduct. Count two relates to the victim having trays thrown at her and the third count to a further assault in the kitchen area.
He pleaded not guilty to count one. Michael Alberga, representing Bush said that he was not pleading to count one because there was no video evidence to support it or prove what happened.
The incident in question occurred on February 21 and CMR was the first to report on the incident.
Patrick Moran, Director of Public Prosecution indicated that he was not happy to accept this plea as they were unclear if the defendant is willing to accept the full facts of the crown's case.
Magistrate Gunn indicated that the DPP wished for the facts of count one; which were now at odds, to be admitted into evidence for the purposes of her being able to fully comprehend the basis of sentencing.
Moran indicated that he was happy to call witnesses today. He said the victim should be able to give her evidence as to what happened that night. Moran stated that she was available Thursday afternoon to give evidence.
He noted that:
“We are concerned with good reason that assertions will be made in mitigation” during sentencing that will mislead the court.
He further noted that they had previously made contact with the defense which parts of the crown's case are not accepted for the purpose of sentencing and have never received such clarity. Therefore, the crown is pushing to move forward with a trial.
In response to this crown's position, Alberga argued that the DPP needed “to get on with it”. They are not in a position to contradict what it was said on count one which alleges she was grabbed by the hair and punched in the face.
Alberga said, “she may be exaggerating” regarding the extent of the assault. It was at that point that Magistrate Gunn opined that this is precisely the issue that the DPP is pointing out. She said, “this is the difficulty and where we are getting into a point of contention.”
In the end, Alberga said that he would accept the crown's assertions without the need for a trial.
Moran said that a letter of October 26 gave him concern as to what the defense intended to put forward in mitigation at a sentencing hearing. Alberga indicated that he was not able to recall the contents of the letter. Moran then presented him with a copy in open court for him to review.
After reviewing the letter in question the judge said that she saw Moran's concerns – that the defense would be claiming that Bush was assaulted by the victim and calling her actions into question.
In the end, Alberga said he could not deny the facts of the crown but was not really able to accept them either. However, he had concerns about how Bush was portrayed on social media as someone who had gone on a rampage that evening and attacked the victim. The magistrate reminded Alberga that she does not watch social media.