Delays prompt court challenge

It took 46 months from the time the Crown laid charges following a fatal houseboat crash in 2010 to a finding of guilt last year

  • Apr. 14, 2016 12:00 p.m.

It took 46 months from the time the Crown laid charges following a fatal houseboat crash in 2010 to a finding of guilt last year by a B.C. Supreme Court justice.

A defence lawyer argued yesterday that a nearly four-year delay is unreasonable and breaches Leon Reinbrecht’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Joe Doyle is asking B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan to overturn convictions against his client based on delays by the Crown and courts.

The court will be asked to determine how long is too long.

In October of last year, Donegan found Reinbrecht guilty of criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm in connection to the July 3, 2010, crash in Magna Bay that left houseboat operator Ken Brown dead at the scene and at least five people injured.

The resulting impact from the accident following post-Canada Day fireworks on the lake resulted in Reinbrecht’s boat coming to a stop inside the houseboat.

The case has been marked from the beginning by delay. The Crown did not bring charges against Reinbrecht until 17 months after the accident.

While that period is not part of the defence’s argument, Doyle said it only adds to his argument the system took too long to bring his client to trial.

“Mr. Reinbrecht did nothing to slow his trial down,” Doyle said. “At all times, he wanted it to proceed.”

Argument on the Charter application is set for three days this week. The Crown is set to present its facts at the completion of the defence’s evidence and final argument.

While Doyle said all the blame for the length of trial process falls at the feet of the Crown, he is the third defence lawyer to represent Reinbrecht.

Lengthy delays were also caused by hearings to determine whether Reinbrecht required legal-aid funding.

The first prosector who worked on the case retired and a number of court dates were delayed, including Donegan’s decision.

 

 

Salmon Arm Observer

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