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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

Cowichan Tribes chief Squtxulenhuw (William Seymour) confirmed the first death in the First Nations community from COVID-19. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes confirms first death from COVID-19

Shelter-in-place order has been extended to Feb. 5

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

Christopher Anthony Craig Dick is wanted by the Port Alberni RCMP in connection to multiple investigations. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Vancouver Island RCMP seek man connected to assault investigations

Christopher Dick, 36, was recently in the North Cowichan and Duncan region

The Farm Table Inn is one of almost two dozen local restaurants and beverage producers participating in Tourism Cowichan’s “Sip, Savour, Support Cowichan” campaign. Pictured are owners George gates and Evelyn Koops. (Alec Wheeler photo)
Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read