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PEI man may be forced to fly to YK court after being late by video


A Northwest Territories judge says he’s considering ordering a man to travel from Prince Edward Island to Yellowknife for sentencing after he was late for a court appearance by video.  

Territorial Court judge Donovan Molloy made the statement on Friday morning after Arthur “Art” Burke failed to appear by video at 9am as scheduled from a courthouse in the province. 

“I really don’t care about the hardship,” Molloy said, appearing frustrated. 

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“Mr Burke is not the victim here.”

Burke is known by some for appearing on the reality TV series Ice Road Truckers. 

On Friday, he had been set to receive his sentence for the rare charge of arson by negligence.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to the charge, admitting he caused damage to a North Slave Housing Corporation building in Yellowknife in 2018.

According to CKLB, which first reported on the case in March, Burke accidentally caused an explosion while attempting to make shatter – a cannabis concentrate – in a bathroom in the building, “blowing the door right off.”

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CKLB reported that Burke was badly burned in the incident and spent 12 days in hospital. Other tenants in the building had to move to a hotel while repairs were completed. 

Sentencing delays

This is not the first time that Burke’s sentencing on the charge has been delayed. 

He was originally set to be sentenced in March, after the Crown prosecutor and defence lawyer in the case had agreed on a term of house arrest. Molloy was concerned, however, that Burke would be spending at least part of that sentence living in his transport truck. 

Burke has since returned to his home in Prince Edward Island.

Burke was next scheduled to face sentencing on Thursday morning. 

Territorial Court Judge Donovan Molloy

A file photo of Judge Donovan Molloy.

During that hearing, however, Molloy said technical difficulties meant he was unable to review the amount of restitution that all parties agreed Burke owed the housing corporation. Neither the Crown prosecutor nor the defence lawyer had documents indicating the amount readily available. 

“The plans of mice and men sometimes go astray,” Molloy said, before resetting the case to Friday morning.

The judge acknowledged Burke was likely anxious for his sentencing to be over. 

“More than you know, sir,” Burke responded. “It’s been quite a while, I’ll be glad when this is all over.” 

On Friday morning, Burke’s lawyer told the court her client believed he was scheduled to appear at 9:30am. She said there had been a “miscommunication” as a PEI courthouse staff member told him he should arrive by 9:15am. 

Shortly after 9am, she said Burke was on his way to the courthouse.

Molloy, however, noted that the time of 9am had been mentioned three times on Thursday. He said the hearing could not be delayed as other cases were scheduled for Friday morning.

While Molloy said he was tempted to immediately make an order for Burke to travel to Yellowknife, he rescheduled the matter to August 11 to make a decision and set another sentencing date.

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