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Trial underway for former Calabogie bartender accused in deaths of two Renfrew hockey players

According to representatives from the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, this case is the first of its kind to play out in Ontario courts.
2017-12-07 Shooters Bar and Grill
Shooter's Bar and Grill, 2017. Photo/ Google Maps

Ann Senack, 63, could be dreaming about her retirement, but the former bartender at the now closed Shooters Bar and Grill in Calabogie is instead defending herself against four serious criminal charges in a Pembroke court.

This past Monday she pled not guilty to two counts of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in relation to a single-vehicle crash near Burnstown, that killed Renfrew teenagers Brandon Hanniman and Alex Paquette, in the early morning of October 28, 2017.

Shortly after midnight, a car driven by Hanniman smashed into a rockface on Calabogie Road just east of Burnstown. The impact was so intense that three of the four occupants were thrown metres from the car.

Both young men, along with fellow Renfrew Timberwolves hockey players Ben Scheuneman and Jake McGrimmon, were all 18 at the time. Scheuneman suffered critical brain injuries, along with other neurological issues, which saw him spend several months in rehabilitation, learning to walk and perform basic motor skills. McGrimmon suffered a serious shoulder injury that required surgeries to repair.

The virtual court was jammed, Monday, and those lucky enough to garner a spot watched Renfrew County Assistant Crown Attorney Richard Morris introduce his case.

Senack is alleged to have served alcohol to the group of under-aged young men on the evening of the car crash.

Following a nearly 16-month investigation by the OPP, it was determined that alcohol was a factor in the crash, and charges were laid against Senack in January 2019.

When Morris opened the trial on Monday morning, he introduced evidence that included three 45-minute video recordings from inside the bar on October 27, 2017.

The time-stamped recordings showed a group of five men, the fifth being Alex Markus who later left alone in a separate vehicle, walking into the bar around 9:30 p.m., and over the next two hours were seen on tape drinking on average nine drinks in that time span, including beers, mixed drinks and shooters.

The video cameras also recorded Senack sitting with the same group and talking with them and eventually serving them their first round of drinks.

 According to the time stamp on the video, Markus departed the bar around 11:30 p.m. and the remaining four young men entered the car driven by Hanniman. They all had an additional drink prior to them leaving the bar shortly before midnight.

On Tuesday, Morris called the first of many witnesses for the prosecution in an attempt to secure a guilty verdict.

The trial is expected to last a minimum of two weeks with the option of adding additional dates if required.

Senack’s defence team is led by Michael Edelson. He is the same lawyer who successfully had the breathalyzer results of Pembroke dentist Dr. Christy Natsis thrown out during her impaired driving trial that followed the fatal March 31, 2011 collision between her vehicle and one driven by 50-year-old Bryan Casey of Ottawa. Casey died while en route from the Highway 417 crash site near Arnprior to the Ottawa Civic Hospital.

Edelson is recognized as one of the top defence attorneys in Canada and he will present the defence after Morris has completed the case for the prosecution.

According to representatives from the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, this case is the first of its kind to play out in Ontario courts.

Servers and owners of establishments involved with both fatal and serious injuries as a result of their actions have been sued in civil court, but this is unchartered territory and all legal eyes will be watching to see the result.

If found guilty on all charges Senack faces up to ten years or more in prison. She has been released on bail and has not served any jail time so far.

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