Lac-Megantic jurors to deliberate for seventh day Wednesday

Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac-Megantic Que

Lac-Megantic jurors to deliberate for seventh day Wednesday

A runaway train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec and exploded on July 6, 2013, levelling much of the downtown.

That's when the locomotive and its cargo of crude oil from the United States rolled away and derailed in Lac-Megantic, exploding and then killing 47 people as well as destroying part of the downtown core.

At least 39 of the remaining buildings had to be demolished due to petroleum contamination, initial newspaper reports had described a one-km blast radius.

Former engineer Tom Harding, 56, rail traffic controller Richard Labrie, 59, and operations manager Jean Demaitre, 53, each faced one count of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people.

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The prosecution argued that Harding played a significant role in the disaster because he didn't apply a sufficient number of brakes. Firefighters extinguished a blaze at the lead locomotive shortly before the tragedy and cut the engine, which meant the air brakes were not functioning.

In the long court-room trial, Harding said he had applied only seven brakes when the derailment was occurring and also he did not test the brakes well before beginning the journey.

According to the Canadian criminal code, the charges could have offered a life sentence to all the three former accused. All three pleaded not guilty.

Thomas Harding, right, leaves the courtroom with his lawyer Tom Walsh, after the jury had a question as they enter their ninth day of deliberations Friday, January 19, 2018 in Sherbrooke, Que.

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They deliberated for eight days, at one point asking the judge for clarification on "marked difference", which the behaviour of the accused would have to be noticeably different from a colleague in a similar circumstance.

Dumas sent the jurors back and asked them to try once more to reach unanimous verdicts.

Demaitre's lawyer, Gaetan Bourassa, argued his client had no say in safety-related decisions made in the United States by the parent company of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway.

The Canadian Transportation Agency suspended MMA's licence after the accident.

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