Driver charged in death of Hamilton woman giving water to pigs at protest has first day in court

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A truck driver charged with careless driving causing death has his first day in court Monday after police say last year he killed an animal-rights activist.

Regan Russell often attended demonstrations at a Burlington, Ont. slaughterhouse. (Toronto Pig Save)

A truck driver charged with careless driving causing death has his first day in court Monday after police say he killed an animal-rights activist who was giving water to pigs being led to slaughter.

Police say the man, who police have not named, was driving his truck to Fearman’s Pork plant in Burlington, Ont. in June of 2020 when it struck and killed 65-year-old Hamilton woman Regan Russell. 

Halton police charged the driver with a provincial traffic offence that could result in anything from a monetary penalty to two years in jail.

Russell’s family, friends and supporters have called on police to upgrade that to a criminal charge, but police say there’s no evidence to suggest the driver struck Russell with criminal intent. Supporters are gathering outside court Monday morning in Burlington.

Mark Powell, Russell’s husband, said “we’re here because nobody else is representing Regan Russell.” He said the court matter that’s set to begin will only be between the Crown and the driver over provincial laws.

“Regan was just collateral damage,” he said, adding he wants to be there to stand up for his family.

In a press release issued Sunday, Russell’s step-son Joshua Powell said “Regan was usually protesting the unnecessary cruelty within animal agriculture; but on that day was standing up against Bill 156, which restricts these activities, while granting power to truckers and drivers in policing their property.” 

The provincial bill creates “animal protection zones” that prohibit animal rights activists from “interfering or interacting with the farm animals in the motor vehicle.” 

He said “Regan’s killing has been deemed a minor incident by the justice system of Canada, and this is unacceptable.”

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