A Delburne man has been cleared by a jury of any wrongdoing in connection with the 2016 fatal rollover death near Lousana of a man driving a stolen truck.
A jury found Daniel Wayne Newsham, 47, not guilty of any charges related to the collision that occurred after a lengthy pursuit down rural roads.
Newsham was charged with manslaughter and accused of causing the collision that led to Stanley Dick’s death on Highway 42. A five-day trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench finished Monday.
Justice Eric Macklin told the seven-man, five-woman jury there were four possible verdicts: not guilty, or guilty of manslaughter, dangerous driving causing death or dangerous driving.
After about six hours of deliberations that began Monday afternoon, the jury found Newsham not guilty of any charge on Tuesday morning.
“We’re relieved, very relieved with the verdict,” said Calgary defence lawyer Balfour Der outside the courthouse. “I’m convinced it was the right verdict and the only verdict the jury could’ve come up with here.
“I’m pleased for my client. He’s got a wife and a young family and it’s been really hard on him.”
During the trial that began last Tuesday, the jury heard Newsham and his friend Karl Raniseth were driving around when they came across Dick in Delburne on the evening of Aug. 14, 2016.
Suspicious, they tried to get the licence number of Dick’s black Dodge Durango, but he drove off with Newsham in pursuit at the wheel of his customized, jacked-up Dodge Ram truck.
At one point, police were called and an officer warned Newsham not to follow Dick’s truck, advice that was ignored.
Dick, 32, wound up on a rural property, where he crashed the Durango into bulk fuel tanks. He then stole a Ford F-150 and drove off, hitting the SUV of a neighbour who had come to investigate.
Newsham and Raniseth, with the owner of the stolen pickup in the back seat, followed Dick to Highway 42.
Dick slammed on the brakes and cut Newsham off when he tried to pass, before the two vehicles clipped each other and Dick lost control shortly before 11:30 p.m.
Dick, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the pickup, landing on the highway. He died later in hospital.
Der said Newsham and the two other eyewitnesses in his truck all testified their vehicle was hit by Dick’s truck. A forensic collision reconstructionist testified that was the most plausible explanation for the crash.
An RCMP collision reconstructionist believed the evidence showed Newsham hit Dick’s truck, but could not rule out the reverse happened.
From the beginning, Newsham expressed his sadness that the evening’s events led to Dick’s death, said Der.
“So he’s relieved on the one hand, but on the other hand, he has always maintained that he’s sorry that this incident happened and someone lost their life.
“He has mixed emotions, but he’s glad that it’s at an end, though.”
Der was asked if Newsham regretted following Dick.
“I don’t know if regret for his actions is the right word, but it’s close to the right word. Because as he said, even right at the scene to a policeman, that he would never ever do anything like that again.
“It’s funny what happens to people in the heat of the moment.
“You can understand it from his perspective, or any of these rural business people or farmers who are out there who are the victim of all these crimes, and it’s so hard for the police to get there to catch anyone. So you can understand them doing what they think they can do to help, which may not be helpful.
“And as I said to the jury, it may have been ill-advised or foolish, but certainly what he was doing wasn’t wrongful.”
Crown prosecutors, who told the jury that Newsham acted with “reckless disregard” and should be found guilty, said outside court they did not have the authority to comment.