“It Is Heartbreaking and It’s Just Not Fair”

“Whatever we do, whatever happens, is never going to bring Scott back, but I just don’t see that this is justice”

By Brock Thiessen

Published Sep 07, 2017

This week, the charges were stayed over a deadly stage collapse in Toronto at a 2012 Radiohead concert. As could be expected, this has not only been a major blow for the band themselves, but also the family of the fallen crew member.

In a new interview with CBC’s As It Happens, Ken Johnson — the father of the late 33-year-old drum tech Scott Johnson — called the multiple court delays and the case’s ultimate dismissal as “totally disgusting.”

“It is heartbreaking and it’s just not fair,” Johnson said. “That’s the harsh reality.”

On Tuesday (September 5), Justice Ann Nelson ruled that the case involving Scott Johnson’s death had taken too long to come to trial and, as such, had violated the rights of the those charged — Live Nation, engineer Domenic Cugliari and contractor Optex Staging — to a timely trial. According to new changes, provincial court cases should go to trial within 18 months, while cases heard in Superior Court should go to trial within 30 months — limits that had been well surpassed in this case.

At the time of Nelson’s ruling to stay the case, she said, “No doubt, this decision will be incomprehensible to Mr. Johnson’s family, who can justifiably complain that justice has not been done.”

In response, Ken Johnson told CBC, “It is appalling that they can sit there and come out with that sort of comment, which is flippant. I don’t find it caring. It’s very easy to sit in that chair and pass that comment, and I hope they sleep well at night because, as far as we’re concerned, they’ve let him down.”

Johnson, who had spent the last five years travelling from the UK to Canada over the case, described his son as “a generous, caring individual. He enjoyed his life. He enjoyed his music.”

Of being on the Radiohead tour that ultimately took his life, Johnson said, “He was thrilled, absolutely thrilled. He worked with a lot of other bands as well, but the Radiohead tour was very special and it was ironic, I think, it was the last gig on that tour.”

Since the Supreme Court of Canada shifted to the 18-month time limit for provincial courts in 2016, hundreds of cases have been thrown out of court, the CBC points out. In Johnson’s case, which would have reportedly taken five years to complete if it ever had gone through — would have lasted three times longer than the newly imposed limit.

“I accept that the courts are very busy and I think that the law to speed up the justice is a very sensible thing, but I don’t see how you can apply it retroactively,” Johnson said. “Whatever we do, whatever happens, is never going to bring Scott back, but I just don’t see that this is justice, and I find it highly offensive that someone might.”

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