Criminal News
Curiosities from the world, criminal news

Judge erred in deadly Abbotsford hit-and-run

0 5
loading...

Judge: “I am satisfied, in this context, that there is a realistic possibility the jurors did not consider all the circumstances in their ultimate determination of mens rea.”

Scales of justice with back-light on wood table. Ideal for home page of law firm website. Can flop and add text as well. ORG XMIT: POS1611161505017070 Bill Oxford / Getty Images

The B.C. Court of Appeal has overturned the conviction of an Abbotsford man given three years imprisonment for fleeing the scene after hitting his alleged drug dealer with a car, fatally ending a violent confrontation.

The province’s high bench said the lower court judge erred in his instructions to the jury about how to interpret the accused’s state-of-mind and circumstances at the time of the deadly altercation in July 2014.

“The judge also erred in telling the jurors that evidence of past threats made by the deceased victim could not be used to the appellant’s benefit unless found to be truthful,” Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten concluded.

In March 2017, a B.C. Supreme Court jury found Mario Richard Delellis, then 47, guilty of one count of dangerous driving causing the death of Dwayne McCormick, 41.

With 58 previous convictions, many related to his addiction, Delellis also was found guilty of leaving the scene of the accident on McKenzie Road in Abbotsford.

In November 2017, Justice Bruce Greyell sentenced him to three years in prison and imposed a one-year driving ban.

Delellis and McCormick had been living in the same housing complex up until a week before the altercation when Delellis and his common-law partner Jessyca Rowe moved out.

“(She) said Mr. McCormick had supplied drugs to the appellant, resulting in a ‘big debt’ payable each month by (Delellis) and Ms. Rowe while they lived at the complex,” the justice explained.

“Mr. McCormick and others demanded that (Delellis) commit crimes in lieu of payment, including theft. At the time of the accident, (Delellis) still owed money to Mr. McCormick.”

The incident happened after Delellis arrived at the complex with Rowe looking for a cheque so they could leave the province. They were trying to avoid McCormick.

Delellis got out of the car, went to one of the townhouses and became embroiled in a heated argument with its occupant, Chris Bekkering.

The two loudly squabbled as Delellis returned to his car with Beckering trailing. He caught up and punched Delellis through the driver’s side window. Delellis threw open his door, knocking Bekkering to the ground.

He got out of his car, but the commotion had attracted the attention of McCormick and another man, causing him to retreat back inside the vehicle.

McCormick had a heavy metal bar, perhaps a tire-iron, and smashed the front of Delellis’ car.

“Witnesses said Mr. McCormick started to walk away, up one of the driveways,” DeWitt-Van Oosten wrote for the three-justice panel.

“The appellant backed up his vehicle and then drove forward into that driveway. At least one witness described him as accelerating toward Mr. McCormick. The driver’s side of the vehicle hit Mr. McCormick. He rolled on to the hood and fell to the ground, landing on one of his shoulders. The appellant put the vehicle in reverse and left the scene.”

McCormick died of cardiac arrest during surgery for his injuries.

“The evidence established that he had been suffering from severe lung disease at the time of his death,” DeWitt-Van Oosten noted.

Delellis turned himself into police the following day.

“Here, the appellant did not testify,” DeWitt-Van Oosten said.

“As such, there was no evidence of ‘actual state of mind.’ However, it was open to the jury to draw inferences about the appellant’s state of mind from the evidence as a whole, including the testimony of Ms. Rowe. This could have included inferences about his perception of the danger or risk presented by persons on the outside of the vehicle, including Mr. McCormick, as well as his assessment of the options available to him in responding. … I am satisfied, in this context, that there is a realistic possibility the jurors did not consider all the circumstances in their ultimate determination of mens rea (intent).”

She ordered a new trial.

[email protected]

twitter.com/ianmulgrew

Original »

loading...
Comments
Loading...