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More delays as EcoLife owner's matters continue to drag

Dave Murray scheduled to return to court on March 25
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What was supposed to be the day that embattled contractor Dave Murray would have a trial date set for his 35 charges of fraud over $5,000 was anti-climactic, as the matter was adjourned until March 25. (File)

What was supposed to be the day that embattled contractor Dave Murray would have a trial date set for his 35 charges of fraud over $5,000 was anti-climactic, as the matter was adjourned until March 25.

Toronto crown attorney Patrick Travers appeared visibly frustrated while speaking to Murray's matter inside a Sudbury courtroom Tuesday, mentioning on multiple occasions that it has been 10 months since Murray's arrest.

"I'm disappointed," said Travers. "It's been 10 months now."

Murray appeared in court Tuesday, explaining that he has retained Elliot Lake lawyer Antoine-René Fabris to represent him, however, Murray had no paperwork to back that up and Fabris was not present in the courtroom with him.

"I don't have a letter, but he's at another matter today and he told me to come here and ask for more time so that he can look over the disclosure," Murray told justice Andrew Buttazzoni.

Murray's search for a lawyer has caused multiple delays in the proceedings; he told the court in July of 2019 that he would be seeking legal aid, a process that caused his matter to be adjourned four times (July 24, Aug. 7, Aug. 28 and Sept. 25) before finally indicating on Nov. 13 that he had received a legal aid certificate and was given until Dec. 11 to retain counsel.

On Jan. 21, Murray told the court that his legal aid had been cancelled and that he was appealing the decision. On that date, Buttazzoni told Murray that the matter needed to move forward and scheduled a judicial pre-trial for Feb. 6.

That pre-trial went ahead as scheduled and Murray's date for trial was to be set on March 10.

In the wake of his legal aid certificate being cancelled, Murray told the court on March 10 that he has been raising money to pay for his lawyer himself. 

Buttazzoni stood the matter down on Tuesday for an hour in order to give Travers the opportunity to reach out the Fabris and confirm that he will be representing Murray.

"I want to be sure everyone is on the same page here," said Buttazzoni. "I'm not going set a pre-trial to find out that there was a problem."

Travers agreed with Buttazzoni, explaining, "we can't set a date without (Fabris') input."

When Travers returned to the courtroom an hour later, he told Buttazzoni that he called Fabris and left two voicemails, sent an email to his office and spoke to one of the office administrators who was unable to assist in providing Fabris' availability.

Murray said that Fabris would be available to be in Sudbury on March 25, though Travers likely will not be able to travel from Toronto on that date and said that he would be able to attend via telephone.

Another snag in the proceeding is that Buttazzoni will not be sitting after March 25 until July, but said he will speak with Sudbury's regional senior justice Patrick Boucher and have him case manage the file in his absence.

"I don't want to delay this," said Buttazzoni.

Travers was in agreement, again noting the length of time that this matter has been volleyed about the courts.

"We've been in position to go to trial or a preliminary hearing for some time now," said Travers.

Murray is scheduled to appear in court on March 25 at 10 a.m. in courtroom C.