Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Man guilty of leaving scene, not killing: lawyer

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Reginald Blackbird with granddaughters Kiya (left), and Ida.

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Reginald Blackbird with granddaughters Kiya (left), and Ida.

The driver of the car that struck and killed Reginald Blackbird on Christmas Eve 2010 should be punished for leaving the scene, but not for the death, his defence lawyer says.

Defence counsel Darren Sawchuk told court in a sentencing submission Wednesday there was no evidence Christopher Peebles was driving illegally or improperly when his car struck Blackbird, 66, in the late afternoon of Dec. 24, 2010.

"The accident could have happened to anyone," Sawchuk said, adding evidence showed Peebles was driving under the posted speed limit and had braked to avoid hitting Blackbird, who had walked out onto the roadway.

Peebles, 46, pleaded guilty in December to a charge of failure to remain at the scene of an accident causing death. The more serious charge of criminal negligence causing death was dismissed by the judge presiding over the preliminary hearing more than a year ago.

Crown prosecutor Victor Bellay said Peebles' actions that day were "morally abhorrent" and suggested he should be sentenced to a 12-month jail term.

Sawchuk said Peebles spent 11 days in custody after being arrested by police on Christmas Day and the more appropriate sentence is 90 days to be served on consecutive weekends.

Justice Lori Spivak reserved her decision to later in the year. Peebles remains free on bail.

Blackbird's family members were in court and repeatedly broke down and sobbed as details of the collision were read to the court. Family members declined to comment after the hearing.

Peebles was driving on Fife Street in the Maples just before 6 p.m. Blackbird had just parked his car on Fife and was carrying a bag of groceries to his daughter's house for a Christmas Eve dinner when he was struck by Peebles. Blackbird was thrown into the air, onto the car's hood and windshield and then thrown to the ground.

Peebles stopped but then backed up and drove off on a route through the neighbourhood and back onto Fife, where he checked the accident scene and then continued to drive on. He abandoned his heavily damaged car a few blocks away and police arrested him at his sister's house on Christmas Day.

Bellay said Peebles had an extensive criminal record from 1984 to 2002 of mostly property crimes but no convictions after that.

Bellay said a responsible person would have stopped and checked on the condition of the victim and seen if there was anything they could do to help.

Sawchuk said Peebles was in shock and "made the wrong choice" to drive off.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 20, 2013 A9

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Updated on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 6:58 AM CDT: adds photo

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