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Appeal Court rejects challenge of dangerous-driving acquittal

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The justice department has lost its appeal in the case of a man cleared of dangerous driving causing death.

In a recent ruling released this month, a three-member panel of the Appeal Court dismissed the appeal involving the acquittal of Roland Artimowich.

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, where 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.

Artimowich was found not guilty despite admitting he had fled the scene, had driven 40 kilometres an hour faster than the posted speed limit in his mother’s Jaguar, and had spent the night leading up to the crash drinking.

The Department of Justice appealed the acquittal on the grounds that the trial judge had erred in law when he found Artimowich was not driving dangerously and that he had refused to consider key evidence which supported the case that Artimowich had been driving dangerously.

In an unanimous ruling written by Justice Diana Cameron, the Appeal court concluded that the trial judge had considered the key evidence but found it could not support a charge of dangerous driving.

"While it is true that the trial judge did not draw certain inferences from the proved fact, as argued by the Crown, and another judge might, indeed, have drawn those inferences and convicted the accused, failure to do so does not constitute an error of law," Cameron wrote.

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