Dateline: BC, Canada
By: Tom Zytaruk at the Now Newspaper
Via: BC Fathers & The Honor Network
Priority News Exchange Program News Item (PNEP)
A New Westminster, BC man who dressed up as Robin and perched on the Pattullo Bridge for nearly five hours in 2004 has lost an appeal of his mischief conviction.
Hal Legere – a.k.a. the Boy Wonder – was arrested after climbing onto the girders about 50 feet above the bridge deck and unfurling a large banner supporting Fathers4Justice, a national organization for which he serves as B.C. coordinator.
He was protesting against court bias in child-custody cases.
The Surrey RCMP and New Westminster police closed the bridge that September day as they tried to talk him down. Legere showed police his safety harness and WCB-approved safety lanyards, and suggested they should move their cars as they were causing “unnecessary blockage of traffic.”
Fathers4Justice had been staging similar protests in the U.K. for some time before moving into Canada and the U.S. Some members dress up as comic book superheroes and stage zany public protests against what they perceive to be unnecessarily adversarial court systems that are biased against dads in child custody cases.
Legere, now 50, said at the time he spent about $150,000 in court battles with his ex-wife over custody of their sons since the couple separated in 1998.
He said he dressed up as the comic book hero because “fathers are superheroes to their children.”
He was convicted of mischief for “wilfully obstructing, interrupting or interfering with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of the Pattullo Bridge,” under the Criminal Code, and received a suspended sentence, two years probation, 50 hours community service and was ordered to stay off all bridges in B.C. unless he’s crossing one in a car.
Legere fought the conviction on the basis that the police closed the bridge, not him, and that he had no control over their actions. He also argued he didn’t have the intent to obstruct traffic because he wanted people to drive by, see his banner and honk in support.
But in a judgment released this week, Justice Anne MacKenzie disagreed with Legere’s arguments.
“The police had no other reasonable choice but to shut down the bridge because they were unable to persuade the appellant to come down from his perch,” she found. “It was four to six hours before he climbed down from the bridge structure.”
She also found the trial judge’s decision not to hear Legere’s “political speech” in court was “entirely appropriate.”