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The Defence's Case

John Conroy, counsel for Hughie MacDonald, opened the Defence by calling Mr. MacDonald to the stand. Mr. MacDonald was taken through his criminal record, then described in detail the events leading up to his confrontation with the Allen brothers in Edmonton in 1984. He also explained his efforts to rehabilitate himself by participating in the Violent Offender Program at the Regional Psychiatric Centre in 1992-93. In February 1994, following his transfer from the RPC to Kent and his release into the general population, he learned that Gary Allen had been admitted to Kent and was in segregation.

Mr. MacDonald stated that Dennis Smith, a member of the Inmate Committee, had advised him that Mr. Allen planned to kill Mr. MacDonald as soon as he got out of segregation. Mr. MacDonald asked Mr. Smith to find out why this was. The next week Dennis Smith and another member of the Committee, Jean-Louis Tremblay, told Hughie that Allen was intent on carrying out his threat and "there was no talking to him." Mr. MacDonald did not believe the institution would release Mr. Allen into the general population, however, as he assumed they were fully aware of the incident in Edmonton Institution back in 1984. He based this assumption on the fact that the incident was always being thrown in his face by CSC staff and was well known among prisoners.

On the morning of Mr. Allen's release from segregation, Mr. MacDonald went to work as usual in the kitchen and stayed there until 12:00 p.m. On his way back to his unit, another prisoner, Walter Sinclair, informed him, "Your worst nightmare has come true. Allen has been released from segregation." Hughie obtained a knife from another prisoner and took it to his cell, where he placed it in his bed. He then went to the dining room. He sat two tables away from Gary Allen and watched as a number of prisoners came up and spoke to Mr. Allen. After Mr. Allen left the dining room, Dennis Smith and Jean-Louis Tremblay came to tell Mr. MacDonald that Allen was out in the yard, that he was armed and that he intended to kill Mr. MacDonald. Shortly afterwards MacDonald was given the same information by a third prisoner, Jimmy Whitmore. Mr. MacDonald watched through the window of the dining room to see what was happening in the courtyard and observed Mr. Allen talking with a number of prisoners. Mr. MacDonald left the dining room and went back to his cell, where he retrieved the knife and then went out into the courtyard.

Mr. MacDonald testified that, because he wanted to hear from Mr. Allen himself what his intentions were, he went over to the other man in the courtyard and said that he would meet him later that evening in the gym. He explained to the jury that his intention was to try and talk things out to avoid further problems. Mr. Allen's response was, "What for? I'm going to fucking kill you right now." According to Mr. MacDonald, Allen then hit him in the face and kicked him in the knee, causing Mr. MacDonald to fall to the ground. Believing that Mr. Allen was armed and that his own life was in danger, Mr. MacDonald reached for the knife he had in the leg of his pants. He waved it at Mr. Allen in a to and fro motion. Mr. MacDonald testified that his intention was to keep Mr. Allen preoccupied so that Mr. Allen could not get at his own knife, which Mr. MacDonald believed him to have under his parka. Mr. Allen backed up, slipped and fell down. A scuffle ensued. Three times during the scuffle the knife was knocked out of Mr. MacDonald's hands, but on each occasion he managed to retrieve it. He was concerned that Mr. Allen might grab it. The fight ended when Mr. Allen, on the ground, grabbed Mr. MacDonald's wrists in an attempt to throw him over his head. Mr. MacDonald attempted to stab Mr. Allen, aiming for his chest. Mr. Allen succeeded in flipping Mr. MacDonald into the air, so the blow was deflected into Mr. Allen's upper chest and shoulder area. As Mr. MacDonald flew over Mr. Allen's head, his body went in one direction and the knife in the other. At that point the guards jumped on Mr. MacDonald and restrained him. Mr. MacDonald testified that, because he was convinced Mr. Allen was armed and intended to kill him, his purpose in using his knife was to stop Mr. Allen or "at least to put a hole in him," and if it meant killing him he was prepared to do that. "I did not want to die that day."

Under cross-examination, Crown counsel suggested to Hughie MacDonald that it had been he who was chasing Gary Allen and that Gary Allen was backing up. Mr. MacDonald responded, "I would have chased him to hell that day." It was put to Mr. MacDonald that, as suggested during the evidence of IPSO Dick, there were alternative ways he could have dealt with the problem. He could have sought the intervention of the Inmate Committee. Mr. MacDonald said that that was not an option, because it was the Inmate Committee who had come to him in the first place to tell him there was a problem with Mr. Allen. Clearly their intervention had not helped deflect Mr. Allen's intent. The second alternative suggested by Crown counsel was going to a staff member and telling that person of the bad blood between Mr. Allen and himself. Mr. MacDonald responded that he believed the administration already knew about the incompatibility. The third alternative suggested was that Mr. MacDonald could have informed a guard that he had some contraband in his cell, as a result of which he would be taken to segregation and therefore avoid any confrontation with Mr. Allen. Mr. MacDonald indignantly responded to this by saying, "Why should I get myself locked up because this piece of -- gentleman -- wants to kill me?" In response to the further suggestion that he could have told staff he had a knife in his cell, which also would have led to his being segregated, Mr. MacDonald replied even more indignantly that this would probably have resulted in his being sent back to the Special Handling Unit for another four years. The final suggestion put to Mr. MacDonald was that he could have sought protective custody (PC) status. Mr. MacDonald said that was not an option for him, because he had lots of incompatibles in PC and, if he had checked in, he would have become involved in an ongoing war with these individuals, including some of Gary Allen's friends.

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John Conroy