Cop's drunk-driving charges stayed because of backlog
Published Thursday, November 4, 2010 6:20PM PDT
Drunk-driving charges have been stayed against a B.C. Mountie because the case took too long to get to trial -- another symptom of a court backlog that is causing long delays.
Kulwant Singh Malhi was accused of fleeing the scene after rear-ending an unmarked police car in 2007. He was charged with impaired and dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident, but a judge terminated the case last week.
Defence lawyer Vincent Michaels argued that the three-year delay was unfair.
"I think 12 to 15 months would have been the outside limits of a reasonable time. In this case, it took twice that long," he told CTV News.
"Memories fade, people move, witnesses disappear."
Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said prosecutors haven't received the judge's full decision on staying the charges.
"It's my understanding that some of the delay that occurred resulted when the first trial date was adjourned. That trial date was adjourned because the Crown had not made full disclosure of some of the material defence had requested," he said.
Attorney General Michael de Jong said he was unhappy with the news.
"Any time a charge is stayed because of systemic delays, that's troubling," he said.
But it isn't that uncommon. In May, two cocaine-trafficking cases were thrown out of court in Cranbrook because of lengthy delays.
In North Vancouver, RCMP Insp. Chris Kennedy says his officers are undergoing intense legal training to make sure their drunk-driving cases will end up with convictions.
"We've done extra training for officers, to ensure that they have a very good understanding of what current case law is and what the evidence required is to meet that threshold," Kennedy said.
As for Malhi, he has been suspended with pay for the past three years and will now face a disciplinary hearing.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lisa Rossington