Farmers Forum staff
BURLINGTON — A semi-truck driver who fatally ran over an animal-rights protester in 2020 as he hauled a load of pigs into a Burlington pork-processing plant will pay a $2,000 fine and be on probation for a year while remaining behind the wheel.
The penalty was imposed on Andrew Blake after he pleaded guilty by video-link on March 27 to the non-criminal, provincial offence of careless driving causing death. Blake’s probation, jointly agreed upon by the Crown and his lawyer at the Burlington court, permits him to drive only for work for the next 12 months
The North Perth resident will not receive a criminal record.
Toronto Pig Save vegan activist Regan Russell, 65, died nearly three years ago as she protested in front of Fearmans Pork Inc.
The plant is a popular place for animal rights protesters who walk up to approaching semi-trailers and feed water to the pigs inside.
According to a statement of facts presented in court, a group of activists blocked the plant’s entrance on June 19, 2020, and watered pigs in the trailer Blake was hauling as the rig stood at a traffic light for more than 4 minutes. When the light was green and the driveway was clear, Blake began turning into the intersection and across a lane of traffic, at which point Russell stepped into the plant driveway. Her body was dragged several feet before the truck stopped.
There was no evidence that Blake, with a driving record described as spotless, intentionally struck Russell.
The mother of the deceased, Pat Russell, among those who delivered emotional victim impact statements before sentencing, told reporters outside the courthouse, “It definitely was an accident … We can’t blame him.”
Regan’s widower, Mark Powell, last year filed a $5-million lawsuit against Blake and the trucking company, Brussels Transport, along with Fearmans owner Sofina Foods, according to media reports.