‘Fault hasn’t been proven’ says defence of man on trial for fatal 2018 Central Saanich crash

The scene of the crash in Central Saanich on Aug. 27, 2018.

A Central Saanich man who struck and killed a Victoria woman four years ago was back in a Victoria courtroom Thursday.

Anthony Thomas is facing six charges including impaired and dangerous driving in relation to a 2008 Central Saanich crash, which killed Kim Ward and her dog, and partially paralyzed her sister Tracy.

Thomas has plead not guilty to all offences. On Thursday, his defence explained why, making their final submissions not by calling any new witnesses, but by poking holes in the Crown’s prosecution.

Thomas’ defence lawyer Peter Blokmanis pointed out inconsistent police analysis and witness statements of Thomas’s speed, and categorized other witness testimony surrounding the fender bender the Crown says Thomas was in before the deadly collision, as also inconsistent, therefore unreliable.

Blokmanis brought up multiple instances of case law across Canada where drivers were acquitted from either dangerous or impaired driving charges.

Then came the issue of the drug levels in Thomas’s blood.

A toxicologist report found a ‘toxic’ cocktail of drugs in his blood: 297 nanograms of methamphetamines, 39 nanograms of amphetamines, and 14 nanograms of alprazolam — a benzodiazepine commonly known as Zanax.

The defence argued that drugs often stay in the blood up to one to two days after impairment, therefore the presence of drugs in Thomas’ blood didn’t necessarily mean he was impaired at the time of the crash.

Blokmanis pointed to the fact that many first responders didn’t consider Thomas to be impaired at all until a police officer observed him staggering twice in the hospital, which Blokmanis argued could have been a result of being involved in a major crash.

Instead, the defence submitted that “Thomas fell asleep not because of the meth in the system, but in spite of it,” and considering precedent in other provinces, Thomas couldn’t be faulted for the driving he did when he was unconscious.

“This is a tragic and unfortunate incident. But the fault has not been proven,” said Blokmanis in his final remarks.

He argued that “Thomas’ decision to get behind the wheel doesn’t show a marked departure of standard of care”, and that the Crown didn’t provide enough evidence to prove that the cause of the crash was due to Thomas’ impairment.

Justice Brian Mackenzie gave Crown prosecutor Tim Stokes a chance to respond, who urged the judge to consider the totality of the evidence.

“Given the facts, if the court finds Mr. Thomas was impaired at the time of driving, given the nature of the driving, there is causation,” Stokes rebutted.

There’s a lot riding on this trial as its result could set the bar for other impaired driving decisions moving forward.

“Much to consider,” said Justice Brian Mackenzie, before adjourning the trial for two weeks.

A sentencing date will be set Feb. 23.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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