Trial set for alleged poachers

Richard Froese
South Peace News

A trial has been set for three people from the High Prairie region charged in connection with an illegal fishing operation more than two years ago.
Elizabeth Ann Andrews and Lee Roy Andrews, both of Faust, and Ryan Ira Andrews, now of Hay River, N.W.T., appeared in High Prairie provincial court April 25.
Judge G.W. Paul confirmed the joint trial for April 17-21, 2023 after Crown prosecutor Serge Eta-Ndu proposed the dates.
“They’re going to be tried at the same time,” Eta-Ndu said.
However, the trial may not proceed, said duty counsel Harry Jong.
“They are looking for an early case resolution,” he told court.
Judge Paul told the three accused they can still take steps to avoid a trial.
“You can talk to the Crown about an early resolution,” he said.
“These matters are complex and you don’t have any lawyers.”
He added the matter has been dragging.
“This has bounced around the system forever,” Judge Paul noted.
All three have appeared on the docket at least 22 times since charges were laid.
All three were ordered to be in person April 25 by Judge Paul when the matter was last in court April 4.
Disclosure for each person will be about a four-inch-thick binder, the Crown said.
Elizabeth Andrews and Ryan Andrew both face three charges of unauthorized buying/selling fish while Lee Andrews faces two similar charges.
They are among 33 people from High Prairie, Faust, Slave Lake and other Alberta communities who originally faced a total of 80 charges under the General Fisheries [Alberta] Regulations, Alberta Fish and Wildlife announced Jan. 23, 2020.
Fish and Wildlife laid the charges after a two-year undercover investigation that focused on trafficking of fish in northern and central Alberta.
Charges include the unlawful sale, purchase and possession of fish, including lake whitefish and walleye – a precious resource in Alberta worth protecting.
Fish were netted primarily in Lesser Slake Lake northeast of High Prairie and Winagami Lake northwest of High Prairie under the guise of Metis and Treaty domestic fishing rights.
However, no commercial fisheries are located in Alberta and Metis and Treaty harvesting rights allow for personal subsistence use only.
Other people charged are from Morinville, Edmonton, Vegreville, Bashaw, Castor and Halkirk.
The final undercover buy occurred Jan. 23, 2020 when authorities seized a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 truck, four gill nets, five fish tubs and gill netting equipment.
During the course of the investigation, about 12,000 lbs of fish were allegedly illegally killed and subsequently trafficked from Lesser Slave Lake and Winagami Lake.
All fish seized was distributed to people in need throughout Alberta.
Although unlikely, the people charged face a maximum fine of $100,000 and incarceration per count.

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