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'Liquid plaster' oozed from Elliot Lake mall ceiling, says former jewellery store worker

She says she reported it to the mall manager
2016-05-08 Janes Walk DMH-14
Donna Hopper/SooToday

An Ontario Provincial Police officer who documented the scene of the deadly Elliot Lake mall collapse four years ago was back on the witness stand Monday as the trial of former engineer Robert Wood entered its second week.

Const. Dale Burns, a forensic identification officer based in Sault Ste. Marie, is detailing dozens of photographs he shot at the Algo Centre Mall on June 23, 2014, the day of the collapse, and on subsequent dates.

Wood, who inspected the structure a few weeks before the fatal cave-in, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of criminal negligence causing death and a single count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Doloris Perrizzolo, 74, and Lucie Aylwin, 37, died after a 40-foot by 80-foot section of the mall's rooftop parking deck collapsed onto a lottery kiosk.

Burns began testifying last Wednesday, but his testimony was interrupted so that Superior Court Justice Edward Gareau could hear from two women who had taken photos of conditions at the mall months and decades prior to the fatal collapse.

Alla Guillemette, manager of the Peoples Jewellers store located in the upper level of the mall, from 1981 to 1993, said there weren't any problems at her business during the first years after the mall opened.

She told prosecutor Marc Huneault that she noticed leakage in the ceiling in the common area.

"There was no leaking in the store. It came later."

Guillemette said she came to work one day, halfway through her tenure at the store, to find "liquid plaster" that had oozed out of the ceiling in the bathroom and on to the carpet in the back of the store.

She began taking photographs of missing ceiling tiles and water damage in the mall.

The witness said she told the mall manager about the leakage, and when he saw it he asked "what do you want me to do about it?" and turned around and walked away.

Bonnie Ladell  showed the court more than 40 photographs she took beginning in February 2012 , showing water damage to ceilings, cracked drywall and loose bricks, and tarps that were used to collect dripping water in many areas.

She described the mall as a "mess" and said she was so nervous that she stopped using an entrance near the kiosk.

The trial continues Tuesday.

About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 35 years.
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