Former Saint John councillor back behind bars

Former Saint John city councillor Donnie Snook is back behind bars after he waived his right to a bail hearing Monday morning.

Defence lawyer Dennis Boyle told the court it would take a number of weeks to put a case together, and as a result, his client would be waiving his right to a bail hearing.

The judge asked Snook if he understood the implications of the move. Snook answered, in a subdued voice, that he did.

Darrell Bastarache, a friend of Snook’s, sat in the courtroom Monday. He is one of many parents who entrusted their children to the former councillor’s care.

“I spoke with my kids. Behaviour of my children never changed over the years they’ve been with Donnie,” says Bastarache. “You tend to notice these things. My kids would tell me if something was wrong. But there’s other people out there, parents who are very angry, very mad, very sad.”

Snook, now 41, is facing three counts of sexual interference on a child under 16 years of age, two counts of possession of child pornography, one count of making child pornography and two counts of making child pornography available.

The charges came after police executed a search warrant at Snook’s Martha Avenue home on Jan. 9.

They seized several items, including computer equipment and children sexual abuse images, during their search. Snook was arrested at the scene.

Police expect it will take weeks to analyze the computer equipment and other evidence that was seized at Snook’s home.

“The key focus with the investigative team right now is dealing with the persons who are coming forward, as well as trying to establish identities from the images that have been depicted on the seized electronic devices,” say Saint John Police Sgt. Jay Henderson.

Snook is expected to return to court for election and pleas on March 11.

Police investigating new complaints against Snook

Police say several people have come forward alleging abuse against Snook since he was arrested earlier this month, although they won’t confirm how many complaints have been filed.

“Since news of the arrest of Donald Snook…the Saint John Police Force and the RCMP have been contacted by several people, alleging they have been sexually abused by the 40-year-old accused,” police confirmed in a statement to CTV News.

“I expected something like this would happen,” says Bastarache. “Whether they’re all valid or not is another thing, but I expected more of this thing and there probably will be even more coming.”

Snook was a well-known volunteer and headed a number of organizations which cater to underprivileged and at-risk children and youth.

Saint John youth worker Bobby Hayes is reminding parents to talk to their children about safety before sending them off on their own.

“It shocked the community and it’s hurt a lot and scared kids,” says Hayes. “It’s scary. That’s a scary thing.”

Hayes founded the Joshua Group, an organization that provides meals and activities to underprivileged children since news of Snook’s arrest.

Hayes says he is taking the opportunity to encourage parents to speak with their children.

“You go in safe places, again, you explain to them you know, where they’re going, where not to go,” says Hayes. “There’s things you do, things you don’t do. People you trust, but right now there’s a dark cloud over this while city of who’s who.”