A B.C. Supreme Court justice stayed charges in Nanaimo recently in a fatal driving case that occurred between Union Bay and Fanny Bay in 2014. Black Press file photo

Charges stayed in fatal driving case north of Fanny Bay

Length of time in go to trial was a factor in B.C. Supreme Court decision

A dangerous driving incident that ended in the eventual death of an elderly woman more than five years ago was to go to trial this fall.

The long delay though, in the end, proved to be the case’s undoing in B.C. Supreme Court in late August.

On Sept. 27, 2014, Margarete Obermann, 91, was badly injured in a head-on collision on Highway 19A between Union Bay and Fanny Bay. Traveling with a friend when the accident occurred, she had to be hospitalized with multiple injuries and remained in hospital where she died three-and-a-half months later.

A driver allegedly involved in the accident, Brandy Dawn Bishop, was later charged with multiple counts related to impaired driving, dangerous driving and causing an accident.

The case had been in the courts for several years, with occasional delays, for example, to obtain new counsel, and there was a preliminary hearing in March 2019 to determine if there was sufficient evidence to go to trial.

The Aug. 27 date in Nanaimo Supreme Court was to have been a pre-trial conference for trial in October. However, Justice Douglas Thompson issued a stay of proceedings on all charges against the accused.

Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel for the B.C. Prosecution Service, said the issue came down to the delay in bringing the matter to trial, which was considered to be constitutionally unreasonable and a breach of Bishop’s charter rights.

In 2016, a well-known case in the Supreme Court of Canada, R v. Jordan, examined the length of time that cases remain in the court system – in that case, the accused was charged for narcotics possession and trafficking in December 2008, but the trial was not concluded until early 2013.

“That’s what set the benchmark for essentially what constitutes a reasonable time for bringing matters to trial,” McLaughlin said.

As a result, cases are to go to trial within 18 months in provincial court or 30 months in superior courts such as B.C. Supreme Court.

RELATED STORY: ‘Sit in jail and wait:’ Legal experts worried about coronavirus court delays

Since it was issued, the Jordan decision has affected numerous cases across Canada, with charges being stayed in many cases over trial delays. According to information from the Library of Parliament, there had been more than 1,700 applications for stays of proceedings within roughly the first year of the decision.

In the Bishop case, while the alleged offences took place in 2014, the charges were not sworn until 2016, so any provisions from the Supreme Court of Canada for existing cases were not relevant.

“There were provisions built into the ruling, but it’s apparent they didn’t apply to this case,” McLaughlin said.

Any decision to appeal, he added, would only come after a careful consideration of the facts of the case and of the circumstances in which Crown could initiate an appeal.

‘There is that possibility and we are reviewing the case,” he said. “There’s limits on our grounds for appeal.”



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Courtimpaired driving

Just Posted

Scenes like this one in the dugout are all too frequent for parents and kids arriving to play baseball at Nunns Creek Park these days, spurring a request to the city to let them move to the Sportsplex in Willow Point. Photo from CRMB presentation to City of Campbell River
Safety concerns run Campbell River Minor Baseball out of Nunns Creek Park

Parents say ‘needle and feces sweeps’ have become part of everyday life for the baseball community

The cover of the newly redesigned Beaver Lodge Forest Lands activity guide. Photo courtesy Greenways Land Trust
Greenways redesigns Beaver Lodge activity guide

Guide has helped teach students for over a decade

Undersea cables are towed out into position. Photo Baylink Networks.
SRD looks at last-mile agreements for Connected Coast project

District to borrow up to $12 million — pending electoral approval

Crews work on construction of the new composting facility at the Campbell River landfill. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Environment group wishes Comox Strathcona compost site was in a better spot

Province has guidelines on siting, but they are not legal requirements

COVID-19 virus (file photo).
COVID-19 exposures reported for two Campbell River schools

Campbell River Christian School and Ecole des Deux Mondes are the schools involved

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Could Victoria skull fragment bring closure to an Island missing persons mystery?

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Most Read