SYDNEY — Morgan James MacNeil made a brief appearance in provincial court on Tuesday morning before being returned to custody on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Laura Catherine Jessome, whose body was found in a hockey bag on the shores of the Mira River.
MacNeil, 21, of Glace Bay, will return to court on March 25 during which time the Crown attorneys office will disclose their case to defence lawyer Darlene MacRury.
Chief Crown attorney Dan MacRury said outside the courtroom given the nature of the charge, there is a great deal of evidence to be disclosed.
“With any murder case, there is usually large volumes of material and this is no different than those type of cases.”
The murder charge alleges MacNeil killed Jessome, 21, of Bras d’Or, between May 2 and May 25, 2012. Jessome’s body was discovered inside a hockey bag along the shore of the Mira River in Marion Bridge on May 25. She was last seen alive on May 2 in the New Aberdeen area of Glace Bay.
Police have declined to indicate the exact cause of death.
The Jessome family has been devastated by her death, the Crown attorney said.
“This is a tragedy that has taken place in our community and you can imagine the devastating affect this type of crime would have on any family, so certainly my heart goes out to the family in relation to this matter.”
The Crown attorney also said on Tuesday that any bail application by MacNeil would have to take place in Supreme Court.
“The Crown, of course, is opposed to bail given the nature of this offence and the fact the accused in this matter is also awaiting disposition on a number of robbery charges.”
When MacNeil was charged with second-degree murder, he was already behind bars awaiting disposition on a host of offences relating to two armed robberies. He is to return to court on Feb. 12 on those charges.
The Crown attorney expects the provincial court will also set a date for a preliminary inquiry after disclosure of the evidence has taken place.
The murder charge against MacNeil came after Cape Breton Regional Police filed two accessory charges in December against two Glace Bay men. Those charges allege the pair — Robert Edwin Matheson, 49, and Bryan Augustine Deruelle, 37, both of Glace Bay — assisted MacNeil and Thomas Barrett, 37, after the murder of Jessome for the purpose of escape.
No murder related charge has yet been filed against Barrett, who is also in jail on unrelated charges. He is scheduled to stand trial on those charges in Supreme Court in April.
Matheson and Deruelle are both in jail awaiting bail hearings on the charges they face.
The Crown attorney told reporters outside the courtroom it is up to police to answer any questions about further developments in the investigation.
Police said on Tuesday the investigation is continuing and there are no updates to be released.