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Judge Stays Trial in Deadly 2012 Radiohead Stage Collapse

Judge Ann Nelson ruled to stay the trial over the 2012 stage collapse that killed Radiohead's drum tech because the case took too long to come to trial.

A Canadian judge moved on Tuesday (Sept. 5) to stay a trial over a 2012 stage collapse at a Toronto concert that killed Radiohead‘s drum tech, saying prosecutors took too long to bring the matter to justice. According to The Globe and MailOntario judge Ann Nelson wrote that the Supreme Court of Canada has set a ceiling of 18 months for proceedings to go forward in provincial courts and that the Radiohead case — which could have taken up to five years to complete if it went to a second trial — was on pace to last three times that long. 

“This case was a complex case that required more time than other cases in the system,” Nelson said in a 21-page judgment. “After allowing for all of the exceptional circumstances that were in play, this case still will have taken too long to complete.” The case was tied to a June 16, 2012, incident that took place a few hours before the band were to perform in Toronto at Downsview Park when a huge part of the staging fell and killed British drum tech Scott Johnson, 33, and injured three others.


Live Nation, engineer Domenic Cugliari and contractor Optex Staging were hit with 13 charges a year later from the Ontario Ministry of Labour and the case eventually went to trial, with 40 days of proceedings that spanned 14 months; the Canadian Supreme Court enacted the new time limits on trials in 2016. When the presiding judge, Shaun Nakatsuru, got a higher court appointment in the midst of the trial it led to a mistrial, though before taking his new job Nakatsuru denied a request in October from Live Nation to throw the charges out due to the repeated delays. A mistrial was, however, declared by a different judge in May and a new hearing was set to begin on Monday (Sept. 4)

Lawyers for Live Nation and Cugliari asked for stay last month in light of the repeated delays and though Nelson said it represented a “failure on the part of the administration of justice,” and would have a “negative impact” on the victims of the collapse, she believed it was the only legal course to take. “No doubt, this decision will be incomprehensible to Mr. Johnson’s family, who can justifiably complain that justice has not been done.” It was unclear at press time if an appeal would be be filed, though the law allows for stayed charges to be brought back within a year.