GUELPH, Ont. — The Crown and Michael Sona’s defence agree that it appears multiple people were involved in the robocalls affair on the morning of the 2011 federal campaign.
But while the Crown argues Sona was the mastermind behind the automated calls that misdirected Liberal voters that day, defence lawyer Norm Boxall says there was no definitive proof presented at trial to convict his client.
Closing arguments are being heard in a Guelph, Ont., courtroom Monday at Sona’s election fraud trial. He’s accused of concocting an elaborate plot to autodial 6,700 phone numbers on the morning of the 2011 election with misleading information on where to vote in Guelph.
“I think there’s more unanswered questions than answered questions,” said defence lawyer Norm Boxall, who elected to call no witnesses after the Crown introduced its evidence.
Boxall told court his client isn’t required by law to prove his innocence and the Crown failed to link him to the crime.
Boxall said Sona lacked the technical savvy to orchestrate the complicated plot and suggested a more likely suspect is Andrew Prescott, a colleague of Sona’s who had experience with the robocall service used on election day.
Prescott testified against Sona last week in exchange for immunity but Boxall noted even the Crown said it doesn’t fully accept his evidence as truthful.
Three times during Crown attorney Croft Michaelson’s closing arguments he told Justice Gary Hearn that Prescott’s testimony “should probably be approached with caution.”
Boxall also argued that the testimony from a number of witnesses who claimed they heard Sona confess is not strong enough to warrant a conviction.
Earlier, Michaelson said that the evidence in the case “points to more than one person” being involved, including Sona.
“Sona played an instrumental role and committed one or more acts” in the scheme, said Michaelson. Even if Hearn finds there’s not enough evidence to identify Sona as the main culprit in the case, there’s more than enough showing that he aided and abetted someone else, Michaelson argued.
Sona, who has maintained his innocence, is charged with “wilfully preventing or endeavouring to prevent an elector from voting.” He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Michaelson said there’s “compelling evidence” that Sona used the fake names Pierre Poutine and Pierre Jones to acquire untraceable prepaid credit cards and a disposable phone to cover his tracks while ordering the robocalls.
He was heard in the days before the election asking about how to send anonymous automated phone calls to hurt the local Liberal campaign and then repeatedly bragged to Conservative colleagues about how exactly he pulled off his plan shortly after the election, Michaelson said.
“The evidence looked at as a whole should leave you with no reasonable doubt,” he told Hearns.
“Mr. Sona had the opportunity, the motive and the means to commit (the crime).”