Updated: Trial stalls for man accused in fatal Canada Day 2016 crash

Defence lawyer argued relevant information received only hours before trial to begin

The trial for a man charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing death was delayed Wednesday morning.

Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Bill Hopkins agreed to a request from the defence for an adjournment because of late-arriving evidence at the start of what was to be a three-day trial in connection with a Canada Day 2016 collision.

A new trial date has not yet been set.

Defence lawyer Donna Derie-Gillespie requested an adjournment after receiving information about interviews with witnesses from the Crown prosecutor only hours before Dylan Beauclair’s three-day trial was to begin.

Beauclair has also pleaded not guilty to two charges of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Beauclair was driving when a single-vehicle collision happened about 10 kilometres east of Red Deer on Highway 595 at about 11:30 p.m. on July 1, 2016.

John Dolliver, 18, of Penhold, and Ashleigh Smith, 16, of Springbrook, were thrown from the vehicle and killed. Two other teen girls were injured.

Beauclair, then 18, was charged in October after a lengthy RCMP investigation.

Derie-Gillespie said the Crown prosecutor sent her an email around 1 a.m. on Wednesday detailing interviews conducted with four witnesses expected to testify in the trial.

She said she didn’t see the message until later Wednesday morning, not long before Beauclair’s trial was to begin.

Being given disclosure so late affects her ability to defend her client and is a breach of his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Derie-Gillespie argued.

“The breach itself shouldn’t be too hard for this court to find, I’m suggesting, sir.”

While both the Crown and defence have transcripts of witness testimony from the public inquiry, as well as witnesses’ original statements to police, Wednesday’s email contains “new, better, different information,” Derie-Gillespie told the judge.

Crown prosecutor Alex Simic argued the interviews turned up no new evidence, but simply clarified earlier statements.

The trial should not be adjourned unless the latest information could affect the trial process or the defence’s approach to the trial, or how they would question witnesses, said Simic.

“Just because you may ask the questions differently, it doesn’t mean (the trial) is fundamentally impacted,” Simic said.

Hopkins said it would not be fair to the defence to adjourn the trial for a day, which was suggested as an option that would allow a shortened trial to go ahead this week.

“The only prudent course is to grant an adjournment,” said Hopkins.

The case returns to court Feb. 4 to set a trial date.

This is the second time Beauclair’s trial has been delayed. It was set for last October, but had to be rescheduled because the Crown prosecutor handling the case was ill.


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