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Asked about his reaction to learning that Mr. Allen had been stabbed and was on his way to hospital, Mr. Smith testified,

Disbelief. Disbelief that the whole event could take place in the first place. Things are usually settled here privately, not in front of the population and under the cameras. Disbelief that Gary was down. I would have assumed that Gary Allen would just break Hughie up and squash him like a bug. Gary Allen didn't need a weapon.

Mr. Smith explained that he was now in protective custody because he had run up drug debts he could not pay. As a result of his last escape from William Head Institution, he had effectively thrown away ten years of his life. When he came back to Kent he started using drugs again, and that had led to the debts. It had also led to a crisis in his life. "I was hoping that if I didn't do myself, someone else would kill me. I was sent to RPC. While I was there I made a conscious decision to break with my past life and here I am."

Mr. Smith was asked whether protective custody would have been an option for Hughie MacDonald. He replied, "Knowing Hughie's problem, PC would not have helped him." He explained that protection is a relative term, and that your safety in protective custody depended upon "who wants you and how badly they want you." If someone wanted you badly enough, there were ways they could get to you through other prisoners even in protective custody. In Mr. MacDonald's case going PC would not have put him beyond Mr. Allen's reach.

Under cross-examination, Mr. Smith stated, "Gary Allen had a way about him that made it better to be a friend of his than to be on the outs." He was asked about his motives for coming to court to give evidence, since earlier that month he had sent a note to Defence counsel stating, "Gary's got too many friends and Hugh's got too many enemies. I don't want anything to do with this." Mr. Smith said that the first statement in the note was not true and that he had written the note as an excuse not to testify, because "I was trying to wash my hands of all this, of everything to do with that part of my life." Asked why he had changed his mind, he replied, "My conscience had a big part in it. It's my belief that what has happened to Hughie MacDonald is not right."

During the course of cross-examination, Mr. Smith had his record put to him. Included in that record was a series of escapes. The Crown's theory was that these escapes were planned affairs, in much the same way Mr. Smith's evidence in court was a planned affair to help Mr. MacDonald. Mr. Smith pointed out that all of his escapes had been spur-of-the-moment affairs. "Every time I see a crack in the door I try to get a look on the other side. I figure I'm never going to get out of prison and so the days I take are the only days I'm ever going to get."

To my mind there was a sadness in Dennis Smith's evidence, a reflection of the burden of his years of imprisonment. Dennis Smith was never to see another crack in the door. He died in custody in Mission Institution of a heart attack in 1997.

In addition to the oral evidence given by correctional officers and prisoners, there was a further thread in the evidentiary reconstruction of the death of Gary Allen referred to by both the Crown and the Defence: videotape evidence. The Crown played for the jury a composite tape. The first part showed the images recorded by a camera mounted at one end of the courtyard. It suffered from several critical deficiencies: not only was it recording events from a distance of some sixty yards, but it picked up only the action close to the end of the fight, when Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Allen were on the ground. The tape included images of staff moving in and then of two officers helping Mr. Allen across the courtyard on his way to the hospital, followed by two other officers escorting Mr. MacDonald across the courtyard on his way to segregation.

The second part of the video recording showed images taken with hand-held cameras operated by prison officers. It showed Hughie MacDonald being taken to the segregation unit, strip-searched and placed in his cell. It tracked the trail of blood that Gary Allen left as he was taken from the courtyard to the hospital. It then recorded the scene in the hospital with the medical staff attending Mr. Allen, concluding with his being taken out of the hospital area by ambulance attendants.

The Defence, shortly before the beginning of the trial, had obtained copies of both the master tape -- which included the images from the courtyard camera -- and a tape from a camera in the prisoner dining room. The Defence played the dining-room tape during the evidence of Hughie MacDonald. Using the tape as a reference, Hughie MacDonald showed the jury where he had been sitting in the dining room, where Gary Allen had been sitting, how Mr. Allen left the dining room, how Jean-Louis Tremblay and Dennis Smith came back in and spoke with Mr. MacDonald, and how, a little later, Jimmy Whitmore came over. Broadly speaking, this part of the videotape was corroboraed Mr. MacDonald's account of the events immediately preceding the confrontation in the courtyard. The images played by Defence counsel from the master recording showed staff and prisoners in the courtyard in the period prior to the confrontation. The tape then jumped to the images showing Mr. Allen and Mr. MacDonald struggling on the ground near the end of their fight.

John Conroy, for the Defence, directed the jury's attention to the lack of recorded images showing what happened when Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Allen first came together in the courtyard. He suggested that while this may have been a function of technical problems or of the various cameras in the courtyard automatically switching over at the critical point (although the Crown witnesses never explained this), it raised a question: given that the cameras were there precisely for the purpose of recording events in the courtyard, why in this case were there no images available that showed one way or the other what took place between the two men?

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