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‘I felt I had failed as a father,’ Brokenshire testifies to jury

First day of testimony from Sonny Brokenshire got underway on Monday, with cross-examination expected to continue on Tuesday
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Sonny Brokenshire. Facebook photo

While he was involved in the planning of an attack on Joseph Simonds, Sonny Brokenshire says he never intended for the Orillia man to die, a jury heard on Monday.

Brokenshire took the stand on Monday for the first day of his testimony in the first-degree murder trial of Brian Quesnel and Martin Forget.

The two are facing charges in the shooting death of Simonds.

Although initially charged with first-degree murder as well in relation to the crime, Brokenshire took a plea deal in January to the lesser crime of conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for testifying.

He was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail as part of the deal, less credit for pre-trial custody, which means he will serve 18 months.

On Monday, Brokenshire testified he first heard of allegations of his daughter being sexually assaulted by Simonds by Natalie and Martin Forget, parents to Brandie Lalonde. His daughter was three years old at the time.

“When I received the call, I was upset and angry. I felt I had failed as a father,” said Brokenshire.

Brokenshire testified he spent about a month trying to speak with Simonds, reaching out through Facebook.

“(I said to him), ‘How could you do this? Did you do this?’ I didn’t get an answer,” said Brokenshire.

The jury heard last week that while Quebec police and local agencies investigated the sexual assault allegations, no charges were ever filed by any investigating agencies against Simonds.

After a month of trying to meet with Simonds without success, Brokenshire said he decided to let it go.

That was, until Martin Forget sent Brokenshire a message telling him Forget wanted to keep tabs on Simonds. Brokenshire said that in May, Forget made a trip up to Orillia with Quesnel.

Brokenshire said this was the first time he had ever met Quesnel.

During their meeting in a garage owned by Brokenshire’s girlfriend Nicole Pinto’s family, Brokenshire said he spent their meeting contacting mutual friends of his and Simonds on Facebook to try to find where he was.

Eventually, he said Quesnel got agitated and angry. Brokenshire said Quesnel then pulled out a sawed-off shotgun from the rafters of the garage and pointed it at Brokenshire.

“Quesnel said, ‘You need to sit down,’ and he pointed the gun at me. Martin jumped between us and said, ‘What are you doing? He’s trying to help,’” said Brokenshire.

After Quesnel and Forget spoke to each other in French for two minutes, Brokenshire said Quesnel put the gun away.

Brokenshire managed to get hold of a mutual friend, and Brokenshire, Quesnel, Forget and the friend drove to 282 Franklin St. in Forget’s Chrysler 300 to look at the home and determine the entrance point. After that evening, all four went their separate ways.

The night of Simonds’ death, Brokenshire testified he worked throughout the day, then spent the early evening selling pot to some friends before he got a text message from Forget saying he and Quesnel were driving to Orillia.

“I was upset because I had prior plans with others. They said they were three hours away,” said Brokenshire on the stand.

Brokenshire again met Quesnel and Forget at Pinto’s family’s garage.

“Martin told me, ‘This has to be done. It has to be taken care of,’” said Brokenshire.

Brokenshire said he received a photo from a friend on Facebook messenger that day of a handgun with a red bandana, with words underneath from Simonds saying, “I have a bullet with Sonny’s name on it.”

“Brian said, ‘I want his blood. I have a piece for it.’ I took that to mean he had a gun,” said Brokenshire.

Brokenshire said on the stand that he intended to beat up Simonds and scare him.

“I knew what their (Quesnel and Forget’s) intentions were. I didn’t agree, but I didn’t stop it,” he said.

When Brokenshire, Quesnel and Forget attended 282 Franklin St. on June 4 shortly after 3:30 a.m., Brokenshire said he approached the door at the back of the house that led to the basement apartment. He said he stood in front of the door, Quesnel stood two steps away and Forget stood at the top of the stairs.

“I knocked on the door. He came to the door but he didn’t open it. I knocked again. He turned on the outside light. I said, ‘What’s up, Joe?’ He laughed and said ‘Come on in,’” testified Brokenshire.

Brokenshire said that due to the text message he received earlier alluding to Simonds possibly having a gun, and being unable to see Simonds directly, he was uneasy about entering the apartment.

“I didn’t trust it and I stepped back,” said Brokenshire. “My gut instinct told me not to go in that house.”

Brokenshire said Quesnel then grew impatient.

“He said, ‘F*** this,’ pushed me back and kicked the door open. That’s when I saw the gun,” said Brokenshire, referring to the same sawed-off shotgun Quesnel had brandished earlier in the Pinto garage.

Brokenshire said that’s when the gun went off. He said he glanced back and saw Simonds falling to the ground holding his chest, while the three men ran back to the vehicle.

“I was pretty scared. I’ve never been in that situation in my life. I was kind of going into a state of shock,” said Brokenshire.

During cross-examination, Forget’s defense attorney, Alan Brass, brought up the plea deal, and what Brokenshire had to gain by testifying against Forget and Quesnel.

“You were facing the possibility of spending the rest of your life in jail – correct?” asked Brass.

“Yes,” said Brokenshire.

“You were able to lie to police at times with a straight face – correct?” asked Brass.

“Yes,” said Brokenshire.

Brass referred to Brokenshire’s visit to OPP in Orillia to speak with them about the case on June 7, 2017.

“When you met with police, you told them you had nothing to do with Simonds’ death. Is that correct?” asked Brass. “And was that a lie?”

“Yes,” said Brokenshire.

“This was an absolute lie to try to get police away from you. Is that correct?” pushed Brass.

“Yes,” said Brokenshire.

Brokenshire’s cross-examination by the defence continues Tuesday.

Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings nine years of experience to her role as regional reporter for Village Media, primarily covering county matters, court, Collingwood and Barrie matters
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