Serious charges laid in Napanee incident of heavy equipment crashed into home

Napanee Fire Services and OPP members secured the scene where a Shelin Pools loader was driven into a residence on Robert Street in Napanee. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

A Napanee man is facing serious charges following a bizarre incident in April 2024.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have charged Duane Hunt in relation to an incident that occurred on Friday, Apr. 5, 2024, in which a wheel loader crashed into a residence at 182 Robert Street in Napanee. Hunt is the owner of Shelin Pools Ltd.

According to the OPP, the charges laid against Hunt are:

  • Mischief — Interfere with lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property — over $5,000
  • Mischief Endangering Life
  • Dangerous Operation

The OPP confirmed that the charge of “Mischief — Interfere with lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property — over $5,000” was laid on the day of the incident, Friday, Apr. 5, 2024. Subsequently, the charge of Dangerous Operation was laid on Monday, Apr. 8, 2024, and the charge of Mischief Endangering Life was laid on Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2024. All charges list the same “Offence Date” of Friday, Apr. 5, 2024.

On that day, Kingstonist arrived on the scene at 182 Robert Street, Napanee within minutes of the incident to find the Greater Napanee Fire Department and OPP already present, and Lennox and Addington Paramedic Services just arriving.

A CASE 621G wheel loader owned by Shelin Pools was in the back driveway of the home. The home was severely damaged, with a large hole at the corner nearest the loader, and emergency responders interacted with several irate individuals on the scene.

A man in the backyard was yelling angrily at OPP officers who were trying to move him away from an older man, now identified as Duane Hunt, who was standing next to the loader. A woman on scene, also irate, was observed pushing an OPP officer, who then instructed her not to touch them.

Building inspectors, in white helmets, inspect the damaged home. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

Within minutes, the Town’s building inspectors were on the scene, surveying the damage and inspecting the structural integrity of the building. By day’s end, a plywood patch covered the hole on the outside of the home.

On Monday, Apr. 8, 2024, Kingstonist received an email from Duane Hunt in which he told Kingstonist to return to the scene of the incident, writing, “Would you like to see and hear the real story? We’re here now to clean up.” Upon the reporter’s return to Robert Street, no one answered the door at the residence, but a sign was posted on-site by the Town of Napanee Building Department indicating that the residence was not structurally safe. Hunt has not responded to follow-up emails.

In subsequent interviews with neighbours, who asked to remain anonymous, area residents identified Hunt as both the driver of the loader and owner of the damaged house. The woman who was on scene at the time of the incident was identified as Hunt’s daughter and the landlord for the property. It was also alleged that a family with small children reside in the apartment in the front half of the house, but were not at home when the incident occurred and remain safe. It is unclear whether the resident of the damaged side of the home was inside when the incident occurred, as the nature of the charges seem to suggest. Police have not verified the accounts of the neighbours with regard to the ownership and rental arrangement of the residence.

According to Caramanna, Friedberg LLP of Toronto, the offence of Dangerous Operation is committed when a person “operates a conveyance in a manner that, having regard to all of the circumstances, is dangerous to the public.“ Generally speaking, a “conveyance” refers broadly to motor vehicles that range from road vehicles to other motorized vehicles/equipment that are not usually used on a roadway, such as an all-terrain vehicle or a forklift.

Mischief charges are laid in Section 430 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which notes, “it is an offence to destroy or damage property; render property dangerous, useless, inoperative, ineffective; obstruct, interrupt, or interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation or obstruct, interrupt, or interfere with any person in their lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property.”

More specifically, “Mischief Over $5,000” indicates the value of the property that was damaged or interfered with – not the cost of the damage itself. It is important to note in this case, that “property” is not limited to a structure or its features but can include anything belonging to a person, such as a cell phone or articles of clothing. 

If the Crown proceeds by summary conviction, the maximum punishment is a fine of not more than $5,000 or a term of imprisonment of not more than two years less a day, or both. If the Crown proceeds by indictment, the maximum punishment is a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years.

According to Criminal defence lawyer Anthony Demarco of Toronto, “The offence of mischief endangering life refers to the offence set out in subsection 430(2), which is punishable by a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life. The mischief must cause actual danger to life for the offence to be established.”

Hunt’s counsel appeared on his behalf before Justice Geoffrey Griffin in the Napanee Ontario Court of Justice on Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2024.  It is unclear if Hunt attended his first scheduled appearance, as he did not speak to the charges. His next court appearance is slated for July 2024.

Kingstonist will provide further coverage on this matter as more information becomes available.

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