What a colossal screw-up by Longueuil lawn enforcement. I can’t say I am surprised. After holding a suspect in connection with the vicious beating death of Jenique Dalcourt for two days, a Crown prosecutor made the stunning announcement on Monday that the man would be released without being charged. Seems LE got a little ahead of themselves, at the appalling expense of the victim’s family.
More from Paul Cherry of The Gazette:
The prosecutor, Sylvie Villeneuve, made the announcement to Quebec Court Judge Ellen Paré after the family of the victim, Jenique Dalcourt spent the entire day at the courthouse, for nothing.
The 26-year-old man, a resident of Longueuil who has no criminal record in Quebec’s provincial court, was arrested Saturday afternoon, four days after Dalcourt, 23, was severely beaten, on Oct. 21, as she walked home from work along the dark section of a bike path in the Vieux Longueuil borough of the South Shore city before 10 p.m. Reportedly, he was one of a few men the Longueuil police questioned as potential witnesses minutes after Dalcourt was found injured by a passerby who called 911. Dalcourt died the following morning.
The Longueuil police spent days at the crime scene and went over the bike path, and an adjacent cemetery, thoroughly in an effort to find evidence among the leaf-covered ground on either side of the path. They also conducted a door-to-door campaign by visiting more than 200 residents in the surrounding area in the hopes of finding witnesses. Their efforts appeared to produce results when the man was arrested on Saturday, but Villeneuve’s surprise announcement on Monday came with a request that the man be released.
“No charge will be laid at this moment,” Villeneuve said with no further explanation to the judge. The Crown made no comment to reporters at the end of the day. A person arrested as a suspect in a crime in Canada can be detained for only a certain amount of time without being charged.
Before agreeing with the request, Paré made sure to point out that the man had been detained at the courthouse all day while the court and the man’s legal aid lawyer, Jean François Lambert, waited for an indictment to be produced by the Crown. Twelve of Dalcourt’s relatives, including her mother, father, stepfather and brother sat in the courtroom for almost the entire day while Paré handled dozens of other cases on Monday.
“This is difficult,” Dalcourt’s stepfather said before Villeneuve made the announcement. He asked that his name not be published. “Every time the door opens (to bring a detained suspect into the prisoner’s dock) we get nervous. We didn’t know what to expect in the courtroom today.”
“(Jenique) was a good girl. She kept to herself — wouldn’t have looked for trouble,” the stepfather said. “She always tried to set a good example for her sisters.”
The victim’s father and her brother, John and Nick Gandolfo, respectively, came to Longueuil from Long Island, New York, after learning that Jenique had been killed. John Gandolfo said that before last week he was looking forward to Christmas because his daughter had made plans to travel to New York for the holiday.
Shortly after 6 p.m. Monday, the suspect walked out of the Longueuil courthouse escorted by several special constables from the courthouse and what appeared to be a few relatives. The man shielded his face with a hood and a piece of paper and had no comment.
The Longueuil police had planned to hold a news conference after the 26-year-old man appeared in court. When that did not happen they instead released a short, written statement.
“Several elements of proof were submitted to the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (the prosecution), however the results of expert analysis (on some evidence) are still expected. At this stage, the investigation is ongoing,” the statement read. The Longueuil police also said they would continue increased patrols of the bike path.