An Estevan man has been acquitted in connection with a fatal 2015 collision in downtown Estevan.
Dmytro (Metro) Ignatiuk had been charged with one count each of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm in connection with the accident, which occurred at a midblock crossing in the 1200-block of Fourth Street in October 2015.
The verdict was handed down by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Janet McMurtry on Nov. 26, as it was a trial by judge. The trial ran from Nov. 18-20.
Merv Nidesh, who was Ignatiuk’s attorney for the case, said that in order to establish a dangerous driving charge, the prosecution must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the driving was a marked departure from what one would expect.
“The judge held that she was not satisfied, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused’s driving was a marked departure,” said Nidesh.
A marked departure requirement has to be a departure from the normal manner of driving.
He noted there could be civil liability for a person who causes an accident, or there could be an offence under the Traffic Safety Act such as driving without due care and attention. But the marked departure was needed for the dangerous driving charges, which fell under the Criminal Code.
The Crown and the defence had agreed that speed was not a factor in the collision.
“I was of the opinion that the criminal offence was not substantiated by the facts as I knew them. We were satisfied that we had a proper and a good defence, and based on the evidence of the prosecution, that there should be an acquittal,” said Nidesh.
Police Chief Paul Ladouceur said the police’s role in a criminal investigation is to determine reasonable probability grounds to determine if something criminal has happened, and then the court is responsible for a higher threshold to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Court should not be a win or lose game,” said Ladouceur. “It’s a case of establishing the criteria to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Kathy Batke, 69, was killed in the collision and an unnamed man, aged 74, suffered serious injuries. Batke and the man were transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital, and then were airlifted to a hospital in Regina for further treatment.
Batke died of her injuries in the hospital in Regina three days after the collision. The man suffered extensive injuries in the accident that required a prolonged hospital stay.