Family of infant protest bail hearing outside courthouse
© Derek Montague/The Labradorian
Two trucks leaving the Supreme Court parking lot are forced to swerve around a group of protesters, who were angry that Thomas Michel had been released on bail.
Emotions were running high between two families during a recent Supreme Court bail hearing in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Back in 2013, 23-year-old Thomas George Michel of Sheshatshiu was charged with second-degree murder in the death of his infant son, Matthew Rich.
Ever since his court appearance in November of that year, Michel had remained in custody.
But now, as of June 18, Michel is out on a $1,000 bail and $1,500 in sureties. While he is out on bail, Michel must abide by 17 different conditions set by the court. These conditions include a ban on having weapons, a daily curfew, and an order to remain in Labrador “unless prior permission is from the court to travel elsewhere.”
During the bail hearing, more than a dozen family members of the late infant, as well as supporters of the family, stood outside the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador building, holding picket signs and protesting Michel’s release from custody.
“I’m here to protest because my grandson was killed,” said Andrew Pokue. “And I don’t like the way they treat the justice system. There’s no justice. We need justice here.
“I feel frustrated, angry, everything.”
While the protest was going on outside, more than a dozen family members and friends of Michel sat waiting in the lobby for his release.
Michel’s Aunt, Denina Andrew, said the murder charge has brought great sadness for her and her family. Having Michel back in the community is a big relief for them.
“I support Thomas very much and we’re really, really happy that he’s getting out,” said Andrew.
“Maybe (we’ll have) a get-together for all the family and celebrate that he’s coming home.”
Shortly before noon, the atmosphere became heated between the two groups. After Michel was officially released, his family and friends piled into their vehicles to go home.
But, to leave the court’s parking lot, they had to drive past the protesters, some of whom didn’t hide their anger towards Michel’s supporters.
Some protesters stood in front of vehicles, forcing trucks to swerve around them. An RCMP officer quickly reminded the group that they couldn’t prevent vehicles from passing through.
Some protesters yelled curses and obscenities, while others held out signs reading, “5 month old Baby Napesh Need Justice” and “We need justice.”
After all the vehicles had passed, one distraught woman broke down in front of an RCMP officer.
“We want to know why. Why is he released?” the woman cried.
There was no sign of Michel leaving the courthouse after his release. A source told The Labradorian he was taken from the courthouse in an RCMP vehicle for his safety.
Michel is due back in court on Oct. 21, at 9:30 a.m.