Man accused of Napanee arena arson raises conflict of interest concern

What remained of the Lennox Agricultural Memorial Community Centre in Napanee after the fire was mostly extinguished on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

Accused arsonist Jay Bradley made a perplexing appearance in Justice Geoffrey Griffin’s Napanee court today.

Bradley, who stands accused of charges related to the destruction by fire of the Lennox Agricultural Memorial Community Centre (also known as “the old arena”) on York Street in Napanee, was attending a simple Ontario Court of Justice case management hearing to see what the next steps in his case will be when he suddenly questioned his own lawyer’s integrity.

Brian Wilcock is Bradley’s lawyer, but Wilcock’s partner, Mark Snider, of Snider Wilcock Criminal Defence appeared on his behalf.

Snider indicated there had been a Crown pre-trial meeting between Wilcock and the Crown attorney’s office and that Wilcock intended to reach out to Bradley to give him the results of that meeting, at which time Bradley would decide how he would like to proceed with his case.

The judge said he was happy to set a date for the next hearing, telling Bradley, “He can speak to you and indicate what his conversations have been with the Crown attorney, and you’ll provide instructions to your lawyer, and I’ll see what we’re doing [in February].”

Bradley answered, “Fantastic, thank you very much.”

Then things took a surprising turn. After a brief pause, Bradley interjected, “I’d like to bring something forward, if you will.”

The judge allowed it, and Bradley indicated that he had “found out recently, unfortunately, that my counsel is in connection with the fair board.” The “fair board” in question is the Lennox Agricultural Society Board, which owns the arena building Bradley is accused of burning down (and also runs the annual Napanee Fair). Bradley is also accused of burning down a garage owned by that Society’s president. Bradley’s business, a roller rink called Disco Ball Events, was located at the arena in question until he was let go as a renter. The arena was intentionally burned on October 23, 2024.

Griffin took this in; he confirmed that Bradley was raising a spectre of concern that “there’d be a conflict of interest” and then said, “Okay, well, I can indicate I know absolutely nothing about that.”

Griffin went on to say that it is something Bradley should certainly investigate by speaking to his lawyer and satisfying himself on how to proceed. The judge pointed out that Snider had certainly heard Bradley’s concern and would be discussing it with Wilcock, and that after the accused got in touch with Wilcock, “then we will see where we go from there.” Bradley’s next hearing is set for mid-February 2024.

Bradley was arrested on November 3, 2023, and stands accused of two counts of arson (with a disregard for human life), criminal harassment (with threatening conduct), and possession of incendiary material (materials designed to cause or exacerbate fire) for allegedly setting fire to both the old York Street arena in Napanee and a private residence. He was denied bail in January and remains in provincial custody at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario.

It remains unclear what relationship, if any, Wilcock has with the Lennox Agricultural Society. Bradley did not indicate in court what the “connection” between Wilcock and the Agricultural/Fair Board might be. Kingstonist has reached out to Wilcock for comment. Further coverage will be provided if/when any new information arises.

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