The Summerland man accused of attacking a doctor in the Penticton psych ward is switching lawyers and applying to be tried before a jury a month before the trial was set to begin.
Gregory Stanley Nield,31, appeared in person in Penticton Supreme Court Oct. 24 with a new defence counsel, Kelowna lawyer Stan Tessmer, after disagreeing with the strategy of former counsel Jeff Campbell out of Vancouver.
“My client advises me that approximately two weeks ago a fundamental rift arose between him and his counsel as to the strategy of the defence of this matter, and as a result he has lost confidence in his counsel,” Tessmer told the court Monday.
However, Tessmer said he would be out of the country for Nov. 21 and 22, the dates scheduled after the December 2015 preliminary inquiry determined there was sufficient evidence to bring the matter to trial in Supreme Court.
Nield pleaded not guilty to the aggravated assault of Dr. Rajeev Sheoran on Dec. 5, 2014 in the Penticton Regional Hospital. Nield is also facing one count of assault causing bodily harm.
Tessmer filed a notice to re-elect to a trial by judge and jury less than a month prior to trial. Crown counsel John Swanson opposed the application on the basis of the 15-day time period that passed after the conclusion of last year’s preliminary inquiry.
“The matter is dated, it’s almost two years old now and in our submission this adjournment application is being brought virtually at the 11th hour,” Swanson said. “We are not consenting to a jury trial at this stage. The accused opportunity to re-elect trial by jury has long since expired.”
Tessmer also added he didn’t believe the six defence witnesses to be called at trial could be dealt with in the initial two-day estimate.
“There will have to be a constitutional challenge to the exercise of my friend’s so-called discretion, and to the underlying section of the Criminal Code that limits the defendant’s right to re-elect unless he does so within the 15 days of a preliminary inquiry or otherwise with the consent of the Crown,” Tessmer said.
Justice Gary Weatherill, who appeared at the hearing by telephone, adjourned the trial to the week of Jan. 23, 2017.