Charges withdrawn against fishermen in elver eel dispute

Halifax Provincial Court/Photo by Megan James

Charges against two fish harvesters who were involved in a violent altercation over the elver eel fishery in April 2023 were withdrawn in Halifax Provincial Court on April 18.

Crown attorney Ben Hoskins informed Judge Ann Marie Simmons that weapons charges against Robert Sack, 45, and Stephen Michael, 48, from the Sipekne’katik First Nation, N.S. were being withdrawn after they completed a restorative justice program with the Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network.

Halifax Provincial Court/Photo by Megan James

Sack and Michael were charged following an altercation over the elver eel fishery in Hubbards, N.S. in the early morning hours of April 13, 2023. Sack was charged with careless use of a firearm, possessing an unauthorized firearm, assault and assault with a weapon. Michael was charged with careless use of a firearm and possessing a weapon for a dangerous purposes.

During a court appearance in December 2023, the crown informed the court it was withdrawing the assault charges against Sack before agreeing to refer both men to the restorative justice program.

Altercation happened in April 2023

According to an RCMP news release, officers responded to a report of an assault with a weapon that occurred near Shore Club Road in Hubbards on April 13, 2023. When they arrived at the scene, officers learned that a man was in a verbal altercation with a woman and a youth over elver eels before he was approached by a group of seven people.

The RCMP said the man was assaulted with a pipe by one man in the group and a second man “brandished a knife and a conducted energy weapon” during the assault. Both men then fled the scene in three vehicles before police arrived. They were charged after officers conducted a traffic stop and searched the vehicles.

Robert Sack/Photo by Stephen Brake

Alexander MacKillop, who represented Sack, said he “was pleased that the crown agreed to refer the matter to restorative justice, and the matter was resolved appropriately, promptly, efficiently, and in a meaningful manner.”

Both Sack and Michael did not respond to a request for an interview. Michael’s lawyer, Mark Knox, also did not respond to a request for comment.

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About Megan James 1 Article
Megan James is a journalism student at the University of King's College. Before King's, she completed an undergraduate degree in English and French at Dalhousie University. Megan will graduate from King's in May 2024.