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Title: Alleged conspiracy 'just a game'

Source: Ottawa Citizen, January 11th, 2000

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Alleged conspiracy 'just a game'
Three accused of plotting death of Brockville police officer were only role-playing, mother says
Don Campbell
The Ottawa Citizen

Wayne Cuddington, The Ottawa Citizen / Police officers escort Lance Williams, centre, and Dillon Blair Langlands out of the Provincial Court in Brockville following the adjournment of their bail hearings. The hearings were adjourned until Friday.

BROCKVILLE -- While a judge and jury may ultimately decide what was real and what was fantasy role-playing, the two men and one youth charged with conspiracy to murder a member of the Brockville Police Service on New Year's Eve will remain behind bars, at least until Friday.

Lance Williams, 21, of Mallorytown, Dillon Langlands, 18, of Brockville, and a 15-year-old who cannot be named under provisions of the Young Offenders Act, all made brief appearances at the Water Street courthouse here yesterday in a courtroom packed with relatives, friends and other supporters.

The two men had their bail hearings adjourned until Friday morning, while the youth will not get a bail hearing until Jan. 12.

The two men also had an additional charge -- uttering a threat to cause serious bodily harm to John Gresswell of Brockville -- added to their plate.

The youth was also charged with possession of drugs.

On their way from a police cruiser to the side door of the courthouse, Mr. Williams and Mr. Langlands, who were handcuffed together, declined to make any comment, biting their lips and shaking their heads when asked if they had anything to say.

Others, including Mr. Langlands' mother, Wendy, have stated the men were only taking part in a role-playing game when the alleged plot was overheard by others as they talked on a cordless phone.

Witnesses have told police they overheard the men and the youth discussing a plan to kill a police officer during the New Year's Eve celebrations in Brockville before stealing weapons and a police cruiser and heading for the United States.

Mrs. Langlands said her son and his friends were merely playing a game called Rifts, in which people take on characters and create fantasy scenarios, and that police have over-reacted.

At the urging of the accuseds' lawyers, Mrs. Langlands and other family members were not talking yesterday. And the lawyers representing the men directed their wrath at police chief Barry King and his force.

"Far too much comment has been made by the investigating authorities," said Michael O'Shaughnessy, the lawyer representing Mr. Williams. "The information released in this case is unprecedented and, in my view, inappropriate."

Mr. O'Shaughnessy vowed his client will be released from custody following Friday's bail hearing before a Superior Court judge.

"My client will be going home Friday," said Mr. O'Shaughnessy. "He has connections in the community. He has family in the community. He has people who will stand by him in the community.

"Prison may be a proper venue for someone who has been convicted of a crime. But my client has no record, and our clients do not deserve to be in prison.

"Our first priority is not addressing the legal issue, but getting our clients out of jail."

In the packed courtroom was a cross-section of the community, from a clergyman -- the uncle of Mr. Langlands -- to youngsters in baseball caps and baggy, rapper-style pants.

Family and friends of the accused hugged and held hands. Some wiped away tears as they greeted each other in the hallway outside the courtroom.

Brockville police deployed three officers to handle courtroom security, though there was never any threat of an incident. The accused showed little emotion and looked straight ahead as lawyers and the Crown attorney argued before a justice of the peace over the schedule for disclosure of the evidence in the case.

Robert Barr is the lawyer representing Mr. Langlands.

He, too, was critical of the police force, and suggested it had over-reacted due to the hype -- and fears of violence -- surrounding the Year 2000 celebrations.

"Instead of Paris, or Tokyo, or some other major city in the world, here we are all involved in something in the little city of Brockville," said Mr. Barr. "You never would have thought this.

"And it has been very disconcerting that the only evidence I have learned in this case has come through the media, and not the office of the Crown.

"Our clients are too distraught right now to say anything. I haven't even taken any direction from my client. Our first priority is to get these men home with their families. My client has never even been in a jail before."

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