Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Evidence ignored in dangerous driving acquital, appeal court told

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A trial judge was accused of ignoring vital evidence during a Manitoba Court of Appeal hearing this morning.

The accusation came in an appeal of a man’s acquittal of a dangerous driving charge involving a fatal hit-and-run in 2008 near Oak Bluff.

Roland Artimowich was found not guilty despite admitting: fleeing the scene; driving 40 kilometres an hour faster than the posted speed limit in his Jaguar; and he had spent the night leading up to the crash drinking.

Odette Dequier, 46, was killed in November 2008 in a crash on Highway 3 near Oak Bluff. She was driving her pickup truck west through town when she was struck head-on by a van. Police say the van had been rear-ended by a speeding 1999 Jaguar, forcing the van's driver to lose control of the vehicle, cross the median and strike Dequier's truck.

Dequier was taken to Health Sciences Centre in critical condition and she died a week later from her injuries. The driver of the Jaguar fled on foot before police arrived.

Artimowich turned himself in to police the following day, admitting he was behind the wheel of his mother's Jaguar. He claimed he got scared by the sight of Dequier trapped inside the wreckage of her vehicle and didn't want to stick around to see any more.

Crown counsel Chris Vanderhooft told the three-justice panel that Justice Morris Kaufman erred in law when he refused to consider evidence – testimony of a witness who had arrived on the scene and police photographs.

Vanderhooft said Kaufman’s explanation he had not been given sufficient information about the surrounding circumstances, including posted speed limits, road condition, and location of the accident, was not correct.

Vanderhooft said all the key evidence was presented to Kaufman but he chose not to look at it.

"All he had to do was look at it," Vanderhooft said.

The panel reserved its decision.


Updated on Friday, May 24, 2013 at 2:07 PM CDT: Adds the decision has be reserved.

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