Saboteur to Plead Not Guilty

Words Cam McRae
Date May 5, 2015

North Vancouver, May 5th, 2015 – Things have become murkier in the case of Tineke Kraal of North Vancouver, who is accused of sabotaging mountain bike trails near her home on Mount Fromme. Earlier nsmb.com, along with some mainstream news outlets reported that Ms Kraal had entered a guilty plea and that the next phase of the proceedings would be sentencing. This was incorrect. And while that was apparently her intention in mid April, Ms Kraal seems to have changed her mind. Unless a plea agreement can be reached Ms Kraal intends to plead not guilty and fight the charge before a British Columbia Court Judge.

North Vancouver RCMP received video evidence they say indicated that Ms Kraal was laying logs across trails in an effort to harm mountain bikers. RCMP initially recommended three charges. In the end Crown Counsel decided to proceed with one lesser charge. For details on case click here. For more on the charges click here.

This morning Ms Kraal’s lawyer, Martin Peters, and Crown Counsel Mark Myhre appeared in front of  Senior B.C. Provincial Court Judge D. E. Moss to discuss the duration of a trial, and to justify the six days counsel has requested. Mr. Myhre indicated that, while the two sides continue to discuss a plea agreement, they are far enough apart to make scheduling court time a necessity.

Mr Myhre indicated the Crown would call eight witnesses, including two experts and that this, as well as half a day of legal arguments, would require four days of court time. Mr. Peters indicated that his client would testify and that the defense would also require experts. Ms Kraal’s lawyer told Judge Moss this would necessitate two additional days for a total of six.

A pre-trial conference, to be held in private, is set for Sept. 17th and the trial is scheduled for December 14th-22nd, 2015.

Both lawyers indicated they would continue to work toward a settlement to avoid a trial, but neither would say if they were optimistic about this process. Mr. Myhre added that ongoing discussions are a positive sign.

What is less clear is how nsmb.com, and other news organizations, came to believe Ms Kraal had entered or intended to enter a guilty plea.

I was out of town on April 15th, but I spoke to an individual who was in court at 9:30 am,  when the appearance was scheduled to take place. A bailiff told my source that Ms Kraal’s lawyer had appeared earlier in the morning. It appears that my source’s understanding that a guilty plea was entered was incorrect and based partially on a misunderstanding. For a guilty plea to have been entered the accused would have had to be present and Ms Kraal has not appeared at any of the court dates.

At that time it appears that Martin Peters told the court his client intended to plead guilty at a future date. At a later appearance, likely on April 29th, Mr. Peters informed the court that his client had changed her mind and would like to proceed to trial. I have made an application for the transcript of the April 15th appearance but it hasn’t arrived.

When I asked Mr. Peters today how the media came to the conclusion that Ms Kraal had pleaded guilty his response was, “well to be honest with you, I didn’t make it easy on them.”

The links below will provide background and editorial on this story.


If you would like to comment on this case please be respectful.

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Comments

carl-linnaeus
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Carl Linnaeus  - May 7, 2015, 1:42 a.m.

Getting my popcorn. I hope she gets jail time. Endangering lives is not a light matter.

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blackfly
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Peter Leeds  - May 6, 2015, 6:05 p.m.

Not that I want her to get off lightly at all, you have to admire the cojones of the lawyer to then go and plead not guilty with video evidence. Must of found some loophole to argue. "She was in the middle of clearing the trail, you didn't let me finish it…." I hope she understands the consequences of losing. Maybe being nuts to begin with she doesn't care…

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james-robinson
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James Robinson  - May 6, 2015, 12:51 p.m.

It was very simply a legal tactic to get the media to report it that way, so ultimately they can paint her as the victim of character assassination by the media and us big bad mountain bikers. Well played scumbag!

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Lee-Lau
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Lee Lau  - May 6, 2015, 7:51 a.m.

Thanks for the update Cam.

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mightyted  - May 5, 2015, 10:56 p.m.

Interesting tactic from her and her lawyer. Instead of looking forward to a swift resolution to this matter, crown now gets to try to negotiate a plea. I hope they are not too eager to make a deal as Id rather she get her 6 days in court than get off easy. Im sure there are more important cases in front of the courts these days but I think it`s important , especially in light of this recent maneuver, to set a precedent.

Crossing my fingers for a very interesting December.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - May 5, 2015, 10:23 p.m.

I want to be forgiving about NSMB.com misreporting the guilty plea originally, but it stretches my sensibilities and I'm unsure if I can.

Take or leave this suggestion: Please set a higher standard for what you do, or do not report. I appreciate your honesty in how this error came about, but your description makes it seem far too uncertain to report to the public. And I mean that in the absence of hindsight.

There was a comment to your original article questioning the validity of the claim…

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mightyted  - May 5, 2015, 10:44 p.m.

Funny, I feel the same way about Fox News. This is a mountain biking website.

Nat, Take or leave this suggestion: manage your own expectations.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - May 5, 2015, 11:09 p.m.

And as a mountain biking website it should not accurately report mountain biking related news? I suspect we have very different opinions on what reasonable expectations are. I also suspect we differ in that I'm not concerned what your expectations are, yet you seem concerned about mine. Leave mine to me please.

This is in no way like Fox News. I'm not accusing NSMB.com of having an ulterior motive here. To me these are simple but significant mistakes. I don't think there's any intentional misrepresentation here as expected on Fox, but I didn't say that.

I'm one person giving my opinion. Maybe more people think similarly here. Maybe more think like you Ted. It's up to NSMB to decide who their market is.

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mightyted  - May 6, 2015, 6:51 a.m.

Fair enough, Nat. Just to clarify on expectations, the Vancouver Sun, Courier and NS News all reported the same story. I should have said more in my comment however my opinion is we can cut Cam some slack. I replied to your comment as I did so that others would consider this before holding NSMB to their standards.

I see your point of view, however.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - May 6, 2015, 7:45 a.m.

Good reply Ted. I hold little respect for those publications as serious news outlets, but I'd come to find NSMB as being trustworthy, without being hardcore. My impression was that NSMB wanted that kind of reputation.

Perhaps I was being a bit too dramatic in my initial comment. Nevertheless, I will consider news items here with more trepidation than I have in the past.

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nelson
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NELSON  - May 6, 2015, 11:17 a.m.

Ted, don't be so quick to assume other news outlets reported the same story. I too can appreciate that NSMB.com's news posting about the plea was not ill- intended but other news outlets did not report the same story. A quick news search to corroborate NSMB.com's plea story 24 hours after the posting confirmed that.

"Trail Saboteur Pleads Guilty" NSMB.com April 15th, 2015

"Her lawyer Peter Martins told CBC News that Kraal plans to plead guilty and he expects the date for the sentencing hearing later this year will be set on Wednesday." CBC, April 15th 2015

"A North Vancouver woman accused of sabotaging mountain biking trails is expected to plead guilty to a criminal charge in the case." Vancouver Courier, April 16th 2015

NSMB.com was given the benefit of the doubt and even queried in the comments section of original plea article about this and they didn't react until today - two weeks later. I like NSMB.com for their MTB industry and lifestyle related articles, but their foray into journalism outside that realm must be taken more seriously.

That said, Cam's heart-on-the-sleeve mea culpa each time something happens is admirable.

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mightyted  - May 6, 2015, 12:06 p.m.

Your right about what the other news outlets reported. Pleading guilty versus "intended to plead guilty" turned out to be very different things indeed.
Again, however (and this is just my opinion) I choose not to hold nsmb.com to a high standard of journalism.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - May 6, 2015, 12:11 a.m.

Thanks for the feedback Nat. While I set a high standard for what we do, I clearly didn't live up to that standard here. And while I made a mistake that other news organizations made, those with large staffs and budgets, I don't feel that absolves me.

When this part of the story was unfolding I was in California for Sea Otter. I was talking to a source who was very close to the case and I asked him to double check his facts. He did, but unfortunately he got it wrong - and I didn't take it any further. I have given my word not to reveal this source but I may be able to eventually. I think at that point you'll understand why I considered this information trustworthy. His information has been iron clad otherwise. At the same time, given another chance, I would find another source to corroborate.

Once again I have learned something the hard way, while having to report on a serious matter that I didn't anticipate. At this point all I can do is take responsibility for my failings and ensure that I don't make the same mistake again. I spent much of today on the phone, at North Van Provincial Court, ordering documents and doing research wherever I could to ensure I had the story correct. And much of that time was deciphering how I got it wrong last time so I could share that here. White-washing it never crossed my mind.

We have done our best to attract an audience that won't stand for second rate work - and I'm proud that we have accomplished that. Thanks for holding us to it. We'll continue to work our asses off to live up to your expectations. We won't always make it there, but we won't stop trying.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - May 6, 2015, 10:03 p.m.

I appreciate the content and time taken in your response, thanks. While I don't want to back down from what I wrote, I wasn't implying anything more than what I wrote. I don't think NSMB sucks; I really like it. I don't think you suck, aside from a couple of errors you come across like a stand-up guy who does a good job running this website. It doesn't seem like you took it that way, but perhaps others have. I'm not going to stop coming here, so while I will be cautious with these news reports from NSMB, any trust I've lost can be earned back.

Props for taking responsibility here. I'm not surprised at all, you've consistently been on point in that way.

It seems a little strange to me that the person involved here feels a need to remain anonymous. I suspect it's one of the guys involved in filming the sabotage, which I guess makes it seem more legit to me. I don't expect a comment on that. Anyway, if it's not, this isn't the pentagon papers, it's passing on information about something that is far from confidential and just serves to protect this person from having to own this mistake. Further props to you for protecting this person in the face of this one person tirade against your organization, ha ha. Seriously though, I do appreciate what you do, and respect you for trying to keep standards up even if they do slip sometimes, and they don't matter to a bunch of your audience. I don't imagine it's easy.

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JulieT
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ashroadadam1 .  - May 5, 2015, 9:05 p.m.

How arrogant and off-kilter does one have to be to go and argue that it is somehow okay to go and set traps to endanger other trail-users? I hope it costs her an arm and a leg in legal fees….and then she loses.

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