Victim impact statements read, crown asks for $150,000 fine in Shores of Erie case


By Jolene Perron

After the Shores of Erie International Wine Fest Corp. was found guilty on two charges under the Liquor License Act, the crown attorney representing the Bernauer family is seeking a penalty of $75,000 per charge, totaling a fine of $150,000.

Justice of the Peace Mike Hurst found the corporation guilty on failing to inspect a piece of ID of a person apparently under the age of 19, and allowing a person under the age of 19 to drink liquor.

Members of the Bernauer family gave victim impact statements as part of a hearing last week and it was often emotional.

“Emily Bernauer is not the reason that this wine festival will not exist in Amherstburg again,” Kim Bernauer, Emily Bernauer’s mother, said in her victim impact statement in court September 27.

Kim Bernauer pointed out the guilty verdicts on the two charges and addressed the court with remarks directed towards the Shores of Erie Wine Festival Corporation.

“Emily is one of those hardworking, devoted, volunteer workers that you have referred to in your testimony,” said, believing the corporation “failed to provide a safe environment for your most vulnerable and there is no penalty that this court can impose upon you that will come remotely close to the penalty that our Emily paid.”

Defence lawyer Patrick Ducharme said the penalties are fines with a huge range available to the sentencing judge, giving him a very wide strike zone in determining what kind of penalty he could give. He told the judge he believed his client should be given a “modest” fine based on the judge’s findings of “significant due diligence.” He said in court, he would not suggest a particular fine amount.

“It is my submission that I could characterize it this way,” explained Ducharme. “They have paid the ultimate penalty of having people look at them as though they played some part in the loss of a precious life when in fact all of their work was to avoid that. I’m suggesting that you consider all of these factors and impose modest fines with respect to each of those charges.”

Ducharme said while the corporation still exists, it has “been under severe financial strain,” and their finances “are low or down to nothing” as they haven’t operated in three years.

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