Former supervisor convicted of criminal negligence released on bail

Jason King has been allowed to return home while appealing conviction

Former supervisor convicted of criminal negligence released on bail

A former construction supervisor sentenced to three years in prison for criminal negligence causing death has been granted bail pending the outcome of his appeal.

Jason King was convicted in the death of 18-year-old Michael Henderson at a construction site in Fredericton on August 16, 2018.

He secured his release from Dorchester Penitentiary in southeastern New Brunswick after a consent order was reached on October 6 between his defense lawyer and the Crown, according to a CBC News report.

The terms of his release come with several conditions that King must adhere to. He is required to maintain the peace, refrain from consuming or possessing alcohol or non-prescription drugs, and stay at his residence in Upper Hainesville at all times, except for his work hours between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. and a brief period on Saturdays to run errands. Additionally, King must wear an ankle monitoring bracelet.

King's release was prompted by his appeal motion, filed after his June 5 conviction. In his notice of appeal, Patrick Hurley, King's lawyer, argued errors were made during the trial, including the admission of a statement provided by King to WorkSafeNB employees and the misinterpretation of King's responses in that statement. Hurley also contended that there was insufficient evidence to establish the requisite standard for a reasonable supervisor.

King is seeking to have the court either overturn his conviction and acquit him of the charge or quash the conviction and order a new trial. Hurley has also submitted an amended notice of appeal, requesting that if the conviction stands, the court allows an appeal against the three-year sentence, potentially replacing it with a 12- to 18-month conditional sentence, followed by a period of probation for another 12 to 18 months.

Hurley argued tthe sentence imposed by Court of King's Bench Justice Thomas Christie was demonstrably unfit and departed unreasonably from the principle of proportionality concerning King's degree of responsibility. During the sentencing, Hurley had initially proposed a conditional sentence for King, which would have entailed serving the sentence in the community under specific restrictions.

(Michael Henderson died in a workplace accident at wastewater treatment facility in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Source: McAdam’s Funeral Home)

Testimony presented during the trial revealed that Henderson, who had recently graduated from high school, was working for Springhill Construction on a project at the City of Fredericton's sewage plant. The project involved constructing a clarifier, a large concrete structure with a hole in the middle, which had a horizontal pipe at the bottom leading to a nearby manhole.

In the weeks before the incident, King had discussed plans to use an inflatable plug to seal the horizontal pipe and fill the manhole with water to test its watertightness. As Henderson was cleaning the hole at the clarifier's center, King initiated the water-filling process around noon, continuing it as Henderson and other workers went for lunch.

After lunch, Henderson returned to work, and the plug dislodged from the pipe, pinning Henderson to the wall as the water level rose above his head. He remained submerged for several minutes before first responders could free him. In June, Judge Christie found King guilty, saying King failed to fulfill his obligations in ensuring Henderson's safety at the construction site.