Monday, November 21, 2005

Bears Like Beer

I was digging around on the Press Herald's site and found a cache of this story from earlier this year. I've highlighted the text that made me hoot in a different color.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 6:15 pm

Moosehead beer caper trial begins for Canadian truck driver

©Copyright 2005 Associated Press.

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick — A lone six pack of Moosehead beer was a key exhibit as the trial began for a New Brunswick man charged with stealing a truckload of the beverage en route to Mexico.

Wade Haines of the Fredericton area appeared before judge and jury on Tuesday as his trial opened on a charge of theft in connection with the disappearance of about 50,000 cans of Moosehead beer last August.

Most of the beer, with its distinctive Spanish labeling, was never recovered, although a few stashes of the stolen suds turned up in different areas of the province. Prosecutors said they will rely on circumstantial evidence to convict Haines, who was supposed to be driving the truck when the beer was stolen.

"We´re not asserting Wade Haines acted alone," Crown prosecutor Trent Wilson said as he made his opening remarks to the jury. "Common sense tells us he could not have acted alone, but we intend to prove that he was involved."

No other person has been charged in connection with the heist.

Wilson said that Haines was the person in control of the truck hauling the beer. He said that when the beer vanished, Haines himself was nowhere to be found.

The tractor-trailer was found Aug. 17 in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, along the border with Maine, its engine still running and the bulk of the Moosehead gone. Haines was arrested near Peterborough, Ontario, later that month.

The six-pack of beer on the evidence table at the trial showed how distinctive the product was, with English writing on one side of the label and Spanish on the other. Haines was driving the load from Fredericton to the Toronto area, from where it was to be shipped to Mexico.

The beer heist quickly became a celebrated crime story in New Brunswick and beyond, especially after cans of the missing beer started showing up in strange places.

At one point, police discovered a stash at a marijuana operation deep in the woods near Doaktown, New Brunswick. Bears had been at the brew and had consumed at least six cans.

As the crime story started to sound more and more like a Super Bowl commercial, complete with beer-guzzling bears, Moosehead capitalized on the publicity.

Joel Levesque, a Moosehead spokesman, said the brewery was pleased to see the bears favored the New Brunswick-brewed beer.

"The thing that really impressed us is the bears chose the Moosehead beer over the dope," Levesque said.

Only three witnesses gave evidence on the opening day of the trial. They said that the beer was loaded into a truck driven by Haines on Aug. 13. He was supposed to have the load in Ontario by Aug. 16.

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