Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Charge stayed against couple who denied owning cellphone

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Manitoba Justice has quietly stayed a charge against an elderly Winnipeg couple accused of using a cellphone while driving — a charge the couple vehemently denied as they said they don’t own a cellphone.

Margaret Piszker said today she and her husband Laszlo were told by Len Eastoe of Traffic Ticket Experts that the charge had been dropped Wednesday.

Piszker said the whole episode could have been avoided if the officer who ticketed them asked to see the phone or searched the car.

"I would’ve opened my purse," she said. "They could have looked in my pockets. We were trying to tell them we didn’t have a phone, but all they wanted to do was write a ticket."

Eastoe said today he found out the case was stayed when he checked the court office today.

"It’s gone, which is the most important part of it all," Eastoe said. "If I wasn’t in and out of the court all the time I probably wouldn’t have found out until the trial."

The Piszkers’ trial was set for Dec. 4.

"I think it’s a very fair result," Eastoe said. "The case against them was thin at best. The evidence I think wasn’t strong enough for a conviction.

"It saves this couple a lot of grief. They were getting very stressed about things."

A spokesman for Manitoba Justice confirmed today the charge was stayed. No specific reason was given.

Last March 2, Laszlo Piszker, 74, was ticketed in the 2500 block of Portage Avenue while he and Margaret, 72, were returning from lunch at the Olive Garden.

Both steadfastly denied they owned a cellphone and vowed to fight the ticket.

A day after the story first appeared in the Free Press, Winnipeg police issued a statement in support of officers who ticketed Piszker, saying it had reviewed the incident and "has information that is contradictory to the information that has been depicted in the local media."

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