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Evidence issues delay preliminary hearing for Saskatchewan man charged in fatal hit and run

Red Deer man was hit and killed in March 2018

A preliminary hearing for a Saskatchewan man accused of leaving the scene of a fatal collision was adjourned after RCMP sent thousands of pages of documents to the Crown prosecutor the day before the session was to begin.

Red Deer Crown prosecutor Ed Ring said his office received well over 5,000, “closer to 10,000” pages, of disclosure in electronic form on Tuesday in connection with the case against Tosh Verstraeten.

The Nipawin, Sask., man is charged with failing to remain at the scene of a collision in which a person died, in connection with the death of a Red Deer man on the night of March 11, 2018.

Darren Nickolson, 38, was helping a friend with his trailer, which was parked on the road, when he was struck by a pickup and killed near 52nd Avenue and 76th Street.

It is alleged that Verstraeten was driving and then fled the scene.

RCMP found the older model pickup involved in the collision in April. After a lengthy investigation, which included public tips, police arrested Verstraeten in Nipawin in November 2018.

Ring told Red Deer provincial court Judge Robin Snider he has not had time to review the disclosure to determine whether it contains new information. Crown prosecutors are obligated to share disclosure with defence lawyers.

The Crown prosecutor told the judge he will also look into why police provided so much information on the eve of a two-day preliminary hearing that was set to begin for Verstraeten.

Preliminary hearings are held to determine if there is sufficient evidence to take cases to trial.

Snider said it was unfortunate that the disclosure issue will mean two days of court time will “now basically be unusable.”

Verstraeten, who still lives in Nipawin, was not in court Wednesday.

His Regina lawyer, Michael Owens, said when he heard about the disclosure issue, and the need to adjourn, he advised Verstraeten, who was three hours on the road to Red Deer, to turn back.

Nipawin is about 11 hours driving from Red Deer.

The case returns to court on Nov. 30 to set a new preliminary hearing date.



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