May 30th, 2024

Man accused of robbery wants to hire new lawyer

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on April 16, 2024.


A Lethbridge man who has fired a string of lawyers because his armed robbery case is taking too long to resolve, says he wants to hire a fifth lawyer.

Jamie Gerald Bagu fired his fourth lawyer last month, and told a judge he would represent himself. But during a hearing this week in Lethbridge court of justice, Bagu said he intends to hire a Calgary lawyer.

Bagu also pointed out he hasn’t received all of his disclosure, despite being in custody for nearly a year.

“I have been incarcerated for a year this month, and I had not seen my disclosure until about 10 months, and I only got to see it for 45 minutes,” Bagu said.

He said his last lawyer refused to allow him to see his disclosure in any detail, and, based on what he did see, the disclosure he has since received from the Crown’s office is missing a significant amount of information, including photos and police notes.

“My family’s going to lose their house, my life’s falling apart, and I need my disclosure so I can get out on bail. I need everything to help me as much as I can.”

Bagu said he’s also missing information involving the police investigation of his wife and children, the circumstances of his arrest and some reportedly missing money.

“I didn’t learn this until 10 months after I was incarcerated that they were looking for $26,000 that they never found in my house because I didn’t have it, because I didn’t rob those banks.”

Bagu is accused of robbing the CIBC in the 500 block of 13 Street North on March 17 and April 11 of last year.

Police reported that in both incidents a man entered the bank and demanded money at gunpoint. The suspect then fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. No one was injured during the robberies.

A vehicle with distinctive features was recorded by a video surveillance camera leaving the area at a high rate of speed following the second robbery. Police later found the vehicle and identified a suspect.

Bagu, who previously elected to be tried in King’s Bench with a judge and jury, is charged with two counts each of robbery with a firearm, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, pointing a firearm, use of a firearm while committing an offence, and disguised with intent, and one count each of assault with a weapon and unsafe storage of a firearm.

Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox told court he has been unable to identify the disclosure Bagu is requesting, but his office gave Bagu a duplicate copy of the disclosure sent to his previous lawyer, which contains everything in the Crown’s file. Fox even asked the lawyer for a copy of the disclosure he had shown Bagu so it could be compared to the Crown’s copy, but the lawyer said he was ethically prohibited from doing so.

“There’s no mechanism I’m aware of by which (Bagu’s lawyer) or any defence lawyer could have received any disclosure that did not come from our office that we would not have a copy of.”

Fox noted, however, while he is required to provide all relevant disclosure, he is not required to provide any disclosure he believes is not relevant.

“The notion that he has, that he is entitled to everything the police may have had in the file, is inaccurate.”

Fox said if Bagu believes the Crown still has relevant information, then that would need to be resolved at a court hearing. However, Fox said he will review the disclosure to confirm whether it contains any of the information Bagu claims is missing, and he will contact the police to determine if they have more information that is relevant.

Fox said any information relating to the accused’s arrest would be relevant, although he doesn’t recall seeing any of that information in the disclosure package. On the other hand, any information about an investigation into his family likely would not be relevant.

Fox also suggested Bagu’s assertion police are looking for the amount of money he claims, is false.

“No one is looking for $26,000. That is a gross exaggeration of what was stolen, combined between the two robberies.”

Fox maintained his office is not withholding any relevant information, but said if Bagu still believes his previous lawyer has more disclosure, he needs to make arrangements to obtain it from him, or give him permission to provide it to the Crown.

Bagu also expressed concern at previous court hearings that his case is taking too long to resolve, largely because the two previous lawyers refused to provide him with his disclosure. He also accused his lawyer of making a deal with the Crown to refuse to provide him disclosure on a USB device.

“This has affected my ability to make progress in this case,” Bagu said on March. 21.

Fox, however, said Bagu must accept blame for any delays. He said the accused’s first court appearance was on April 28 of last year, but two weeks later he fired his first lawyer. He fired his second lawyer in June, two weeks after he was denied bail, and by July he had hired his third lawyer.

On Nov. 22, when a pretrial conference was expected to be held to set dates for a preliminary hearing, the Crown was notified that Bagu was firing his third lawyer, and she was officially released two days later.

On Dec. 7 Bagu’s fourth lawyer went on the record, and a pretrial conference was held on Feb. 22, during which a preliminary hearing was scheduled for July 17-19. Early last month the Crown learned the latest lawyer was to be removed as counsel for the accused.

“So this is Mr. Bagu’s fourth counsel that he has discharged,” Fox said during last month’s hearing. “The delay in getting this matter advanced soley rests on him and his decisions. The Crown has been trying to advance this matter since (the second lawyer) was first on the matter and we were trying to move towards a prelim at that time.”

The matter is scheduled to return to court April 24 for an update on Bagu’s request for additional disclosure.

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