In a brief court session Tuesday morning, Judge Al Bégin said anyone who prevents Duggan from meeting in private with his lawyer, Pat Atherton, will have to answer to the court for their actions.
“Obviously I have serious problems with that,” Bégin said, of a message he received from Atherton. It indicated an official at the Central Nova Correctional Centre in Dartmouth, where Duggan is in remand, has refused the lawyer access to his client unless two officers are present in the room.
“To be clear,” he ruled, as Atherton listened in on an open telephone line, “corrections staff and sheriffs’ services are to assist in the proper administration of justice, not to obstruct or interfere. If any individuals interfere further in Mr. Duggan’s right to have access to council in private, I direct Mr. Atherton to prepare a subpoena for those individuals to appear before me on Oct. 3 to explain themselves,” Bégin said.
“Mr. Atherton is a trusted and respected officer of the court and he is to be granted private access to Mr. Duggan as noted in the order which I have signed.”
Duggan, 49, is accused of first-degree murder in the recent death of his neighbour Susan Butlin.
Butlin, 58, was found dead in her home by RCMP officers late on the night of Sept. 17, following a 911 call from the residence.
Duggan was wounded by police early the next morning in an alleged exchange of gunfire while he took refuge in his vehicle on the grounds of the Lockerbie Memorial Cemetery just outside Tatamagouche.
He is also charged with attempted murder against several RCMP members because of that standoff.
Duggan missed his first court appearance last week because he was still being treated for his gunshot wounds at the QEII Hospital in Halifax. He is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Truro on Monday.