Defence accuses Crown of delay in Gentles case

A high profile impaired driving case is back before the courts this week.

A high profile impaired driving case is back before the courts this week.

The defence lawyer for Martin Gentles made an application for delay in Williams Lake Supreme Court Monday before Justice John D. Truscott.

Ken Walker argued the Crown is responsible for delay in the three-year-old case of Gentles, who last February was found guilty of impaired driving and fleeing the scene of a collision which left one woman dead and another seriously injured in April of 2012.

If Truscott finds delay in the case, he said he will not sentence Gentles on his two convictions.

Crown counsellor Julie Dufour, who prosecuted Gentles on several charges relating to the incident, told the court Monday the accused suffered no serious prejudice as a result of the delay.

“Drunk driving is a terrible crime that causes carnage … we cannot be passive. This is a case where a young woman was killed and another young woman was harmed during a campaign against drunk driving by police presiding over an event and the one person who got through and didn’t get that message was Mr. Gentles.”

On April 22, 2012, Gentles’ vehicle struck Rayel MacDonald and her friend Alysha Mullett as they attempted to cross Carson Drive after attending the 2012 Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo dance at about 2:15 a.m.

The tragedy was recounted in a preliminary hearing in 2013, and again throughout a three-week trial in 2014, which saw several civilian and police witnesses take the stand before a crowded courtroom.

In his submission this week, Walker argued it was the first year after the collision that caused his client to experience prejudice.

Originally Gentles was charged the day of the collision with two counts of impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm relating.

By June 27, 2012, however, Crown stayed the charges and waited a year until April 2013 to approve seven charges against Gentles.

Walker said Crown had all of their material by the summer of 2012 and the overall time period exceeded what the Supreme Court had in mind under Section 11B of the Charter, where it states any person charged with an offence has the right to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offence.

Dufour argued the 10-month gap between June 27, 2012 when the first charges were stayed and up to April 25, 2013 when the proceedings were recommenced should not be considered a delay attributed to Crown.

Dufour also said Gentles did not provide any evidence of actual prejudice caused by the delay in his affidavit sworn Feb. 3, 2015 or provide evidence that he didn’t agree to any of his court dates throughout.

“He lost his job shortly after the proceedings were stayed, not as a result of the delay,” she added. “His stigma and fear were concerned with the charges not the delay.”

Truscott is expected to make his decision Wednesday, July 8.

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